Chapter no 26 – A GROWING DIVIDE


Molly and Tom sobbed steadily, but each worked internally to control their shock and hysteria. The atrocious feelings of ghastly imagery lingered; they wouldn’t be easy to overcome.

But as Tom watched Isaac and Sadie each climb into the duct, he pushed his psyche to shift. He knew he had to concentrate on the children that were still alive for any of them to have a chance.

While the notion felt like it would require a miracle, Tom knew nothing was impossible. The more he dulled his emotions, calmed his body, and rationally analyzed the situation, the more room for opportunity he saw.

The gateway to their children and their horrors suddenly went black.

The TV monitor displayed nothing.

A confused expression overcame Rock’s face. He furrowed his brow up toward the camera in the corner of the room, then back to the TV monitor. Since the screens the parents watched were embedded in the wall, Rock knew the camera angles wouldn’t provide the control room a look at the malfunction.

Rock looked at the three captives, his squarish face brandishing a curled grimace.

“Don’t do anything stupid. I’ll be right back,” he said.

When Rock exited the dimly lit room, Tom and Molly immediately looked at each other.

“We—We’ve gotta get out of here. What are we gonna do?” Molly whispered.

“He’s the key,” Tom replied. “What do you mean?”

“I mean we have no options. He’s our only shot. We sure as shit aren’t getting out of these chairs unless he lets us. I know you see it too. His eyes are showing his hand. He knows this is fucked. He’s not like them.”

“Then why the fuck are we still here, genius?!” Greg exclaimed.

“Lower your Goddamn voice! I’m not saying he’s ready to crack right now. He’ll need some convincing. But we all saw the way that old witch controls him. He’s under her thumb. We’ve gotta work together and help him realize what she’s done, not just to us, but to him.”

“What?! For all we know this could’ve all been his doing!” Greg refuted.

“Now who’s speculating—”

“Oh, fuck you, tough guy. That piece of shit walked in here covered in blood! You—You think that was some kind of accident?”

“I don’t know, but it’s not like we have a better option,” Tom reasoned. “What do you mean?! He told her right in front of you that he killed

someone for trying to get away, and now you think he’s just gonna let us walk?”

“Listen to me, I don’t give a shit what he’s done. Forget about that. I’m telling you, sure as the Superbowl’s on Sunday, he’s the only chance we’ve got.”

The football reference seemed to be the dog whistle that made Greg’s ears perk up. He found himself actually listening to Tom.

“I’m begging you, Greg. Just give it a chance. Work with us so we can all get the fuck out of here. Please.”

Greg turned to his blood-drenched wife with confusion. It was almost as if he was looking for guidance from her. Had Lacey’s body throbbed with a pulse, her husband’s response might’ve been different. But now alone in the world, Greg could only be himself.

“No! No one’s getting out of here! You’re just afraid! You know your kids don’t got what it takes! I know you see it! My boys are out there doing all the heavy lifting! They’ll make it to the end, and when they let me see ‘em again, when they let me out of this fuckin’ chair, there’s gonna be hell to pay.”

Greg glared over at the gaping wound in Lacey’s pale neck. The blood in her body had finally run dry, while the twinkle of madness in Greg’s eye had only grown. Inside, he knew it with utmost certainty; she would’ve been proud of their children.

“Who gives a shit if they make it or not! Even if they get to the end, you think they’re gonna just let us go after that?! People are dead! Dead! What about that doesn’t register in that thick fucking skull of yours?!”

Tom lost his cool; Greg knew exactly how to get to him. “A pussy like you wouldn’t get it,” Greg laughed.

“Get what?!”

“While I’d like to think I’d tear some ass if they let me out of this chair, in the grand scheme of things, it probably doesn’t even matter.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because, in all likelihood, we’re already fuckin’ dead. The future is fried. All that’s left is the competition now. It’s my blood against your blood, in one last duel for old time’s sake. And guess what?”

Tom didn’t humor him with a response. But that didn’t stop Greg, after a moment passed, he carried on.

“The Matthews clan ain’t going out like losers.”

Greg extended his hand over to his lifelong cheerleader. He cradled his love’s dead palm with boundless sincerity.

“Ain’t that right, baby doll,” he whispered. A fresh teardrop pissed out of his eye duct.

“For such a competitive asshole you sure give up easy,” Molly said.

She didn’t know if the comment might help to bring him closer into the fold. But Greg’s response proved that her attempt at reverse psychology had fallen flat.

A manic grin formed on Greg’s face.

“Oh, I haven’t given up, not by a long shot. Just you watch. Let the games begin.”

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