Bradley returned later last night to take the socks out of my mouth and then chloroform me again. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s chloroform on the rag. This morning I woke up dry-mouthed as ever. The lights in the facility glowed with a soft hum I almost forgot, and my eyes didn’t want to open. I searched for Bradley but couldn’t find him. The knowledge from the previous day made me angry. I could have told him that I knew who he was, but Bradley didn’t let me. And now I was alone, with the lights on, and none of the machine fans hummed with life. It felt like someone was watching me.
I turned to the image on the television and saw all seven bodies now covered in ice. Why would the cop come alone? I don’t know how cops run the show, but I feel like if you’re checking out reports of a strange man that might have kidnapped someone, which he did, you should bring more than one officer. At the same time, the police could have thought it was a joke after what happened over fifteen years ago at the local haunted house. For once, I appreciated that it was Double B and not Cass Lawrence who’d taken me. A door opened, and the clacks of the dress shoes echoed across the floor but stopped before I could see Bradley.
“Last chance,” Bradley said. The voice modulator was gone, and he sounded worried. “Can you guess who I am?”
While Bradley Brown sounded worried, he also sounded more arrogant than before. Maybe I do prefer him with the voice modulator. I heard the shift of what sounded like metal in fabric. I strained my neck to make eye contact with Double B, but I still couldn’t see him.
“Your name is Bradley Brown,” I said. I’d had all morning to think through what I wanted to say. “You know what’s sad is Barry’s mom didn’t even recognize you. I believe she donates on the same days and at the same time as you. The only memorable thing you brought to this world was your hot daught—“
Bradley slammed a bag that rattled against the cage. His eyes burned red, and I couldn’t tell if it was from rage or if he was crying. I didn’t care. He would have to force me to shut my mouth.
“I don’t know what went wrong,” I continued, “but I do remember that we permanently deferred you because you tested positive for HIV.”
Bradley flung the cage open and pushed it away from me. I felt amazed at how much freer I felt just at that moment. I’d almost forgotten about the bars around me, and sometimes I’m sure I did. The air felt cleaner than before. I looked at the screen, which showed all of my coworkers. No matter how mad he gets, I have to keep talking. I honestly don’t know why I think this is a good idea, but it’s better than nothing.
“And the next week, your wife and daughters stopped donating,” I said. “So, you got caught cheating on your wife?”
Bradley grabbed the fabric gym bag and dropped it on my chest. I grunted as the weight almost knocked the wind out of me. I heard a rattle that sounded familiar. It almost sounded like the springs in a loaded magazine, just like my father used when we went to the gun range. The weight felt like multiple magazines and handguns. The bag might be large enough to hold a Sub-machine gun, but it was unlikely that Double B bought those.
“You know,” Bradley said, “It’s crazy what a good line of credit can get you these days. Did you know that no one notices if you don’t purchase more than one handgun in seven days? Why do you think it took so long for me to put my plan into action?”
Bradley seemed consumed with his monologue when I heard the wheels of a vehicle roll to a halt outside. I prayed that Double B wouldn’t notice.
“And now, since you can’t seem to remember what happened,” Bradley said. “I guess I’ll infect you with HIV, and you can suffer both physical and mental pain for the rest of your short life.”
Bradley pulled a knife out of his bag and cut the tip of his finger. The blood welled and then dropped onto my lips, but I tried to keep them pressed together as tight as possible. I tried to blow air through my nose as hard as I could to get the blood off of my lips. Then Bradley stuck his bloody finger into my mouth. I bit down and felt a strange pop before Bradley screamed in pain and pulled away.
“YOU—“ Bradley started to yell, but the buzz from the back door doorbell cut him off.
I am a little disappointed that I didn’t bite his finger off. I guess it isn’t as easy as biting through a carrot. Bradley reached into the closest drawer and started to rip gauze packets open. The buzzer continued to go off. I looked at the blinds and thought I saw a flash of red and blue from behind them. A door opened in the back, but I could still hear it’s seal break. Bradley ran back to the bag on my chest. I twisted in the bed, not caring if it would hurt, and sent the bag to the ground as he tried to reach in for a weapon. The bag opened as it fell, and four handguns fell out of the bag with more magazines. Bradley fell to the ground and grabbed the first gun his hand reached. The next set of doors opened from another direction. Behind me? And Bradley fired a shot in that direction. I hear the return of fire. There was a crunch of wood, a thump of fabric, and then a searing pain in my lower back.