How the fuck did my life fall so deep into the shitter?
I had been deployed with the guys just a few days ago, some dick had drawn the golden ticket and found himself on the shit list. We had no idea what had put him there, it wasn’t our job to question, it was our job to follow orders. The usual suspects, Bucky, Diggler, along with KT and me, with the addition of a FNG (Fucking New Guy) that the Serg had thrown in, who had hit the ground running. It was his first time out of the cage with us and I gotta say the kid was savage, it was like letting a rabid dog off the leash and watching it tear through a schoolyard at recess. Normally that shit would need to be kept tidy, but orders were it was a free-fire zone, in other words, the only ones to walk away from this would be us, so we just let the kid fly and picked up the strays. It wasn’t a bad day’s work, we were in and out in a few hours and then sat with our asses back on seats and in the air, on our way back to base as it hit 1300 hours. Diggler suggested we hit Gracey’s for a few drinks to wash off the dust, but only me and the FNG could make it. Bucky and KT were out for some reason known to themselves. Their loss.
When we got back, I grabbed a quick shower and changed. Forty minutes later I was at the bar and ordering my first drink while I waited for the others. Gracey’s was off base and on the edge of the town, not many of the locals frequented it, as the clientele was more Hell’s Angels than quiet town’s folk and that suited me to a T. Even better was the fact that since it was so early there was only me and three others in the place. I’d just been served, the guy behind the bar went out back mumbling something about changing a keg so there was only us customers in the room. I’d settled in to wait for the others and was about to put the glass to my lips when I got shoved from behind, my beer splashed out and down over the front of my T-shirt. What the fuck? As I turned to ask what limp dick, jerk-off had just ruined my new Deadpool T, the first punch landed, connecting with my jaw causing my head to snap violently to the side. Son of a bitch!
Anger began to bubble, but I fought to keep my cool, slowly I turned my head to see who had thrown it. Turns out the guys that had been sitting behind me at the table were now standing around me, two of them my height and build and the other was the size of a house, a big muscular bastard.
“Okay, so you don’t like the shirt.” I joked as I looked up into the eyes of the man-mountain standing directly in front of me. Christ this guy was built like a tank. Don’t get me wrong, I ain't no skinny dude that would blow away on a gust of wind. I worked out daily and had muscle Arnie or Stallone would be proud of back in the day, but this guy made the Hulk look like he needed to beef up. I was about to try and talk my way out of whatever it was they thought I had done on them, when the big dude lunged for me, his face twisted and gnarly, his eyes… there was something weird with his eyes. They looked dark brown, almost black, but as he moved forward, the rays of light that shone in from the skylight above showed that his eyes had taken on a fucked up, thick yellow ring round the iris.
Aw shit, great. Dude was jacked up on some shit, that along with the meat jacket he wore meant I was about to put in a hell of a workout. Maybe his size would slow him down. Ducking to the side, I dodged the next punch and moved just out of his way, giving myself enough time and space to quickly assess the situation. I could try and hold him off until the guys got here, which should be soon, but the way he was acting I’d say shit was about to get real and the party would be over by then. Naw, I never was and never would be anyone’s punching bag, so if it was a fight he wanted, it was a fight he would get.
Balling my hands into fists, I slowly moved around the table between us, but that lasted only a second. With an animalistic snarl, the big bastard gripped it and tossed it to the side like it was nothing, before charging at me again, a deep growl thundering in his chest as he steamed headfirst toward me. Pulling my arm back and with as much force as I could muster, I let my fist fly, the sound of the impact echoed sickeningly as it collided with his jaw. When the contact was made, his head barely moved, but fuck did the skin on my knuckles split. One of the others with the big guy started to laugh which really pissed me off.
“Dude! What the fuck are you made of?” The only thing that I ever hit that was as hard as this guy’s face was the concrete wall in my apartment the night I found out my ex was shacking up with some dick from her work. It was that moment the barman picked to walk back in, he took a quick look at the scene before him and mumbled a low, “Jesus Christ,” before not so subtly trying to back right out again, but he was too late. One of the other men that had been standing by the bar laughing at the prospect of me about to get my shit knocked in, saw him and after placing one hand on the counter, bounded over and cleared it in one jump, catching the poor SOB off guard. He didn’t have time to take a breath, let alone run, the meathead grabbed him by the throat and I watched in horror as his grip tightened, fingers puncturing the bare flesh causing blood to weep out. The asshole then turned to me while holding the barman, with a weird fucked up grin on his face, he moved like lightening, his free hand shot forward and punctured the poor guy’s abdomen. His squeals filled the room as he looked at the bastard holding him, fear, panic, and pain shrouded his features all in a matter of seconds. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the guy and neither could I, even though the big dude could make a go for me at any time. With horrid fascination I watched while the bar dude wriggled as his attacker pushed further into his gut, wrist deep then elbow deep. All the while the fucked up piece of shit kept his eyes on me as if gauging my response, his laugh which started low and skittish now growing manic. As blood coated the ground around his feet, turning the light wooden colored floor a dark red as it spread, the barman took a last agonizing breath before his heart was ripped violently from him and his body was let go and left to fall in a heap where it landed. His attacker stood, arm coated in the guy’s blood and holding his heart, all pleased with himself. He held it out to me with a dumb smirk before that eerie fucked up laugh filled the room once more, only silenced as he savagely ripped into the still warm organ, his teeth ripping and tearing at it, his face now like the rest of him coated in the dead guy's blood, his eyes now showing the same luminous gold rings in them.
What the actual god damn fuck was going on here? I needed to shake the shock of it off and quick, because these bastards were fucked up in the head and I wasn’t gonna be like that sad fuck in a pool of his own blood.
“Hey, Colossus? Professor X called, he needs you back at the Mansion.” I just managed to get that quip out as he pulled back and let fly with another punch. Thank fuck this time I saw it coming so I was able to dodge it. His fist impacted with the column behind me, taking a large chunk of mortar out of it, causing a small cloud of dust to rise and fall. I was about to make my move and take a swipe at the mutant when I sensed someone behind me. I was too slow to react and some sort of sack was pulled over my head, then milliseconds later I felt an immense weight hit me square on the back knocking me against the bar beside the bloody mess that lay on the floor. I felt the weight of someone pinning me down.
“Don’t struggle, there’s no point,” a gruff voice rasped by my ear. Fuck that shit. I tried to force myself back, but a massive rough hand gripped the back of my neck and pinned me to the bar, while another pair of hands seized my wrists and pulled them up my back long enough for a cable tie to be slapped and secured around them, the coarse plastic biting at my skin as I fought against the tight restraint. I needed to keep my wits about me, if I was to get out of this fucked up situation I needed to use my head.
“You’re gonna want to let this shit go, my buddies will be here any minute and if they walk in on this, shit will get messy. Whatever you fucking think I did that is bugging ya, spit it out.” I didn’t think they would go for it, but I had to give it one last try. Whatever the deal was with these guys they weren’t gonna just drop it. I had been on many missions and it was always covert so no one should know who I was or the shit I had done.
We had always been told in training that the name of the game was control, control your thoughts, your emotions and your opinions, but right now with this bag now tied around my head and the air I breathed getting warm and dense, all I could think of was fuck control. I had given up trying to see anything through the sack and it pretty much screwed with my sense of smell too, because all I could get was the rancid scent of whatever the fuck was stored in this thing before my head. Touch was gone with my hands secured behind me, unless you included my face squashed against the wooden bar top, all that left me was sound and in the few short minutes I had been pinned here, I had been able to work out that as well as the guy holding me in place there were on estimation two others in the room.
“What the fuc..?” Anything I was gonna say was cut short as I felt a searing pain in my shoulder, right between my neck and the top of my arm, I could feel my skin tear open as one of these bastards sank their teeth into the flesh. I couldn’t help but let out a roar as I felt the teeth sink deeper into sinew and muscle. All of a sudden the pain turned into a blistering heat and the sensation of what felt like lava being poured into the wound. It felt like it was scorching though my veins and working its way down my shoulder into my chest. I began to break out into a cold sweat as I quickly approached my pain threshold, which had never happened before. I’d been shot in combat, stabbed and even tortured once when I had been caught south of the border while on a job I took to get a bit of extra cash. While scouting a big drug kingpin I’d been captured, but I had never felt ungodly pain like this, ever. I could feel my knees begin to buckle, good thing someone was holding me in place or I would definitely be on the ground and as hard as I fought to hold onto consciousness, the pain was chipping away at my efforts. Each second that passed, brought me closer to darkness until I eventually passed out, with one thought in my head… where the fuck are Diggler and FNG?
“Don’t stress it friend, your vision will clear in a short while, after that you will get a better view of the place.” My head shot round, following the sound of the deep male voice. Squinting, I tried to focus, but I could only make out the outline of someone in what appeared to be another cage beside mine.
“Where the fuck am I?” Had we fucked up and left someone alive on our last mission and this was the result? Had my screwing around with the Serg’s wife got my ass whipped and set up here for some payback? I knew the Serg was a sick son of a bitch, his wife had the cigarette burns all over her body to prove it, but was he that fucked off enough to pull this shit.
I mean, let’s face it he was sticking it to half the females on the base, why the fuck would he care? Bruised ego?
A quiet laugh filtered through to me from the other holding cage.
“Friend, you is in hell and if this ain’t it then I sure as fuck don’t know what is. You’re a dog solider now man.” Again he laughed, though judging by his tone when he had spoken it wasn’t through humor. “Don’t sweat it though, they won’t touch you for another day yet, takes a while for that shit to take hold and although you are able to fight now, your strength will be up and down until it fully infiltrates your system.”
Was I hearing right, or had that punch from Colossus caused brain shake?
“What the fuck are you talking about? Dog soldiers?”
He scoffed at the obvious disbelief in my voice. I shuffled across the floor and positioned myself at the back of the cage so that I could rest against the wall, its coolness refreshing against the heat of my skin. My vision was quickly beginning to clear and I could now see what looked like a large room, the side facing me lined left to right with cages, some of them seemed occupied others empty. There was one door into the room and no windows. Looking to my left, then my right, I confirmed a suspicion that this side of the room was pretty much the same. Turning my head back in the direction of where the voice had come from, through the bars I could see a guy about late twenties, with dark brown hair that appeared matted and dirty. He had the sharpest, piercing green eyes, I had ever seen. He was watching something across the way which gave me the opportunity to look at him and get more info on who he was. He had sharp chiseled features and although the room was dark I could still see that he was gaunt, he had dark rings under his eyes and the dude looked like shit.
“You, it’s what you are now. Well, when they need you to be, other times you’ll be entertainment and something for them to make money on.”
This guy was off his meds, and I needed to get the hell away from him and this shithole. He laughed again and I have to say I was finding that real fucking annoying, but he continued, “Let me take a stab in the dark here, you my friend are, or should I say were, in the army. Hmmm, let’s see, they never go below Corporal and going by the ink on your shoulder I’d say Special Forces.” He let out a long, low whistle, “Fuckers picked a good one this time, huh.” Stupidly enough, it wasn’t until he pointed out my tattoo that I realized I was stripped to the waist and although this place looked dark and cold I couldn’t feel it, as a matter of fact it felt quite warm.
With my vision almost clear, I threw a quick eye over what I could of my body and as I did, the memory of being bitten came flooding back causing me to whip around and spring to my feet, as my hand reached up and over where it had been. I was sure I’d find a lump of flesh missing and possibly blood along with god knows what else, but after gingerly feeling over the area I quickly realized there was nothing there, the bite was gone. Running my finger over the section again, I pressed my fingers on it, then frowned, I could feel two rows of swollen flesh, like a scar of sorts where the bite would have been and it sure as fuck hadn’t been there before.
“You didn’t answer my question, where the fuck are we?”
“No, I didn’t, did I? If you are looking for the bite mark, expecting blood and bits of skin and shit missing, then sorry friend you’re gonna be disappointed. The wound heals quickly or should I say you now heal quickly, in a day or so that slight scarring on your shoulder will be gone too. This crap has its advantages, few of them true, but they’re there still.” He turned to face me and it was then that I caught a glimpse of a yellow halo around the iris of his eye. He was one of them!
I lunged forward, my arms sliding through the rails as I reached for him, my face pressed against the metal bars as I fought to reach him, “You are one of them!”
He didn’t move, didn’t even flinch, he just sat watching me. “Dude, you need to chill or they will come in and taze your ass. Yes, I’m one of them and like I said, so are you. Now I know you’re a smart guy, they aren’t bottom feeders, these guys only go for the cream of the crop, so if you want to get through this then you need to stay smart and one way to do that is to sit back, shut the fuck up and listen.” He jerked his head towards the wall and indicated for me to move back.
I did as he suggested, but not because he asked, but because I wanted to find out what was going on. “Right talk, what exactly do you know.”
He shrugged and made a face, “Well, first off, you are here because someone you know has sold your ass to them, you have fucked someone off enough for them to want you gone, but they only would have agreed if they thought you were worth the effort. Next they will be looking for next of kin whether that be wife, kids, parents or siblings and as soon as they find them, they will take them out, whoever took the offer not only condemned you, but your family too. You are their commodity now and they won’t risk someone looking for you. They’ll make it look like you did it, disgrace your name so that not even the military will want their hands dirtied by you.”
I had no kin, the only person I had was my ex, and even then I didn’t have that. I was trailed around foster home after foster home until I hit eighteen. By then, I had nowhere to go other than into the military, I had always wanted that sense of family, craved it and after signing up it was the first time I had felt it.
“They will keep you here and use you in the pits for a while and if you survive that then you will be taken up to the next level, that’s where I hear the real fun starts. They start fucking with your head until you are like the assholes that brought you in. Down here in the pits you are nothing more than a dog to them, up there if you make it out of here you become one of them, a dog solider.”
A few days passed, at least going by the lights on and lights off crap, and as that went on, I sat and watched everything that played out around me. Feeding happened three times a day, which was signaled by the sound of a bell ringing, what I guessed was breakfast, lunch, and dinner, though it was hard to tell seeing as it was the same shit at each serving. Every other day four guys would be taken from their cages, some would go peacefully without a struggle, these my talkative neighbor called sensible. The ones that kicked up a fuss would be tasered until unconscious with what looked like cattle prods that were juiced up with major voltage. When the door opened again, hours later, only one of the four would be returned, usually covered in blood and slashes along with what looked like bites. They would be tossed into their cage once more and left there.
A day later, three fresh faces were brought in and put into the cages the others once occupied. Each day would pass just like the day before, but I was beginning to pick up on more the longer I was here. My sight was beyond 50/50, I could see better than ever, especially in the dark and as for my hearing, fuck I could hear a flea fart from a mile away it was so sharp. I’d just wakened when the bell went, and like clockwork in came two guys pushing a cart stacked with trays and a massive pot of what I could only assume was the usual shit. One by one, they went around us, serving food on a tray and slipping it through a well-crafted trap in the cage door. It may not have been a steak or good ole home cooking but it was food, barely. I watched as the guy that had been brought in the same day as me had been bypassed. He called out to the goons that were giving us our food, but they ignored him. In the end, everyone in the room had been fed with the exception of four and I was one of them, as was Mr Talkative. “Hey Asshole! You missed mine!” I called after them, but other than a deep chuckle, they didn’t react.
“No point, looks like we are next.” The voice to the side of me cut in, “Haven’t you noticed the way shit happens here?” He shook his head and smirked as if he was the holder of some great secret, “Those that don’t get fed are the ones that are taken out later to the pits.” He moved back and away from the bars and settled on the ground, “I would advise you to rest, you are gonna need every piece of strength you have to get through this… at some point it could come down to a fight between us. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will bud if that’s what it takes to get out of this hell hole.”
I was the last, they had taken the guy next to me, a while back, unlike most he went quietly no struggle, no fight just walked out beside them. As he passed my cage, he glanced in, “Good luck, you’ll need it.” Then he was gone.
The others, the ones that had been here before I had gotten the pleasure, began to mumble, “Hey you! Best you bend over and kiss your ass goodbye.”
“Just saying, looks like there is gonna be three new faces in here over the next day or two cause only one of you is coming back tonight and hate to tell ya, but it ain’t gonna be you.”
I could feel my muscles tense up as my temper rose, the urge to rip that ignorant fuck’s throat out, was blinding.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever dickhead.”
He threw his head back and full hearted belly laughed. “I ain’t got nothing against you bro, don’t need to be so wired. I’ve been watching you and him, getting all chatty and shit, not once did he tell you that he’s been in the pit, hell he’s the longest here. That means that there have been a lot of guys like you taken down by him. He’s the best in here… you? You are just a rung on the ladder he’s gonna step on to get the fuck out of this shithole. So, like I said, kiss that ass goodbye.”
Jesus fucking Christ! If that wasn’t the biggest shocker, I don’t know what was, I was beginning to trust the guy and all along he was most likely noting my reactions, how I behaved and all that stuff I should have been doing. He had given me a clue, he said that no one in here was a civilian, everyone one was military, which meant that we all had training in surveillance and I had dropped the ball on that shit. I had no time to stew over it though, as the door opened and in came the big dude that had brought me in.
“You,” he pointed at me as he approached, “Your turn, now you gonna behave or am I gonna get the pleasure of beating your ass all the way?”
If what the dude in the corner said was right then I needed to keep my energy, no point wasting it on this piece of shit. I pushed myself up off the floor and moved to the door, I could already feel the adrenaline pumping, and as much as I would love to knock this SOB on his ass, I wouldn’t.
“Shut the fuck up and just get me to where I need to be.” I smirked as he bristled, gotta get your kicks when you can.
I had hoped for some sort way to escape, but there were none. When we left the large room we were all held in, we crossed the hall and walking in through another door that was guarded by two dudes like the mountain beside me. When we went through the door it was shut behind us and the place was in darkness. It took just a second, it was like someone had flipped a switch and the room lit up, I had built in night vision. How handy that would have been out on assignment. I turned to make a witty remark to Colossus and found that he wasn’t there, I was alone. Turning slowly around, my eyes narrowed as my brain went into overdrive attempting to process what was at play here, what I could do and as I turned to the left, over my shoulder up on the wall by the door there was a small red dot, a camera. “Seriously man? Fucking Houdini now?”
“Quit your yapping asshole, walk down to the bottom of the hall and wait, a door will open, when it does it’s party time and I get to watch as you get your throat ripped out. Now… move!” The voice echoed down the hallway and by his tone of voice I could tell the bastard was convinced that I was about to do the ‘dead man walking’ routine.
All this time, deep inside my rage was on a low boil, my training had slid to the wayside when I had first gotten here, I wasn’t gonna make that mistake again. If I lost my shit here, I would waste energy and that was precious right now, no I had to keep a lid on it. Instead of reacting I took a deep breath and took one step, then another and another until I had gone as far as I physically could. The hallway was narrow and long, the ceiling and walls sloping into each other to give a tunnel effect. As I approached the end, I could hear a din grow from a low hum to an audible hiss of sound. I couldn’t make out distinct words, but I could tell it was people talking, shouting, lots of them. Taking another deep breath I swallowed thickly as I heard the clank of a lock being lifted on the door… I guess it was show time.
The door began to lift and as it did, light cut a sharp angle into the darkness I had been standing in and crept its way up over me. As it did, the dull noises I had heard moments before became a thundering roar. There were cheers and jeers, men and women alike were there and both as vocal as the other. It wasn’t until the door was fully lifted that I could get a clear view at the carnage in front of me. My years of training and military service, doing what I do, could never have prepared me for this, and I had seen some fucked up shit in my time.
I took a few steps into the circular walled pit, my eyes devouring the sight before me, my mind processing the image it was seeing while behind me the metallic swish of the door being dropped and the thud of it hitting the ground shook me out of my head and into what was gonna go down. They weren’t kidding when they called it a pit, it wasn’t that big, maybe twenty feet or so in diameter, rimmed with concrete walls. I tilted my head back and let my eyes travel the height of it until above me, I could see faces. There were about thirty to forty all gawping over and the fuckers were all yelling and cheering. I let my gaze drop and once again take in the carnage before me, body parts lay strewn around the sand and sawdust covered ground, patches of dark red soaked into it in places. As my eyes drank it all in, I picked out the head of one of the guys that had been taken out first, at least at best guess I would say it was him, going on the carrot red hair now matted in blood and brain matter, because there was fuck all left of the guy’s face. It looked like it had been slashed repeatedly until it was just mush, but that wasn’t his only issue, he was missing an arm, a bloody stump was all that was showing and the blood. Jesus the blood around him was unreal. Suddenly there was movement to the left of me, I turned and there was the other guy, again on his back, his face sprayed with blood, the look of sheer terror on his face which was now a mask of his last moments. His throat was ripped out, shreds of skin and shit hung from it and there hunched over him, hands, sunken into his torn open chest cavity, ripping and tearing at what was inside until they found what they were looking for. Turning slowly with the guy’s heart in his hand was my cage buddy, the first person I had spoken to when I got to this god forsaken shithole.
“Sorry buddy, I had hoped that it would be a while before this would have to go down. I kinda liked you, but…” he lifted the guy’s heart to his mouth and bit into it, as he did, blood ooze and bubbled from the torn arteries that had once pumped life into the guy now in a bloody mess on the ground, “It’s dog eat dog here, literally, and if it’s not you, it’s me and we both know that ain’t gonna happen.”
He took one more chunk out of the thing he held, before letting it drop over his shoulder where ironically, it fell into the cavity it came from. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand his lips pulled into a sly grin, “You know how some tribes would eat the heart of their aggressors after they had slain them, they believed that they gained their strength?” He jerked his head to the guy behind him, “For us it’s not lore, it’s not myth. For us, it feeds the beast and gives us strength.”
Jeers from the crowd above broke his attention and he roared, not the sound of a man but the sound of a predator and it caused those gathered to fill the place with cheers and shouts of ‘Fucking kill him!’ and ‘Gut the bastard’.
“You know I won’t go down easy right?” I knew that the longer we stood here talking the better he would be at working me out. This bitch had never seen me fight, he had never seen what I was capable of, but he was going to. To the glee of the crowd, I launched myself at him catching him off guard, guessing that given the state of the others on the ground that to do damage he had to be up close and personal. I had to be sure that after delivering each strike that I got out of swiping range. My kick to his torso knocked him back and he stumbled a few steps almost tripping over his last victory. His head whipped up to show the unadulterated rage embedded on his face, his brows were drawn and lips pulled back in a snarl, it was then I noticed the teeth. They were pointed, all of them, like daggers ready for ripping at flesh and they still had the smear of blood on them from his last snack.
He got the memo, talking was over, it was time for me to take the title from this bastard. I kept my eyes on him as he crouched, his hands fisted and bracing his weight readying to launch himself, he didn’t hesitate, moments later he came at me. I had never seen speed like it, but I managed to dodge him and as he passed, I instinctively clawed at him. My fingers ripped into the skin on his back and he roared out in what I would say was a mix of pain and wounded ego. First blood was mine. We fought until my body ached, but I couldn’t stop, if I stopped I died and if I died I wouldn’t get out of this fucked up place and hunt the bastard that put me here. The freaks above were screaming down at us, baying for blood. Who’s? They didn’t care, they just wanted it spilled. I took my eyes off him for a split second to glance up and paid for it. I felt razor sharp nails slice across my face, one just missing my eye as I instinctively pulled away. That was followed quickly by a swiping blow to my gut forcing me to stumble back and out of his way. We were both tired, but both wanting to live, that was as good as an incentive as any to carry on.
I was covered in slashes and knew the amount of blood loss was bad, due to the feeling of weakness that was beginning to wash over me. One of my eyes was swollen so much that it was like looking through a slit, my body covered in blood, a union of his and mine. Looking over at him, my mind having tuned out the crowds above after that last attack, all there was in this world was me and him. He was panting as much as I was, I guess he underestimated his new friend and that had cost him. I had torn a lump from his chest and had slashed where I could in the frenzied attacks. We were Even Steven’s now, it could go either way, but I needed to make the scales tip in my favor.
When I had hit the deck the moments before, I fisted a handful of blood soaked mix and as he came charging at me once more, I waited until he was close enough and threw it, blinding him and in that moment taking my chance to end it. His hands went to his eyes as mine shot out, my fingers puncturing his chest, fracturing bone. I pushed further as the shock pinned him, my hand finding its prize and as I had watched the dude at the bar days ago, I found myself mirroring his actions.
“Time to relinquish the title bro.” And with that, his beating heart in my hand I watched his face whilst I ripped it from his body. I had never been a religious man, more a believer of luck but someone was watching over me because had I not used that moment to make my move and had he not fucked up then, I would be the one about to die, not him. His eyes widened and I watched as with his last gasp of breath, his life slipped ungraciously away. That was it, the last of my energy spent I sank to my knees before falling forward, the pits surroundings began to dim and darkness quickly swallowed me.