Ashes and Ghost

XI

Louis tried to wiggle his elbows. "It's too tight."

"Shut up," Lou said. He continued to bind Louis to the chair. It was – three in the afternoon. The linoleum was not cold but very dry under Louis's feet. He licked his lips… chapped too. He tried to lay his head back but that was very uncomfortable.

Lou took his time. Once he was done, Louis could barely move. He listened while Lou went to the bathroom. The toilet flushed.

Still Lou wasn't coming. Some kind of mind game, that's what Louis thought. Tie him up and make him wait.

When Lou did come back into the kitchen Louis didn't hear him. He startled when Lou's hand brushed his shoulder.

From the bowl of fruit on the counter, Lou picked up an orange. He hefted it in his hands. Louis could see the movement in his shoulder blades, tossing the orange up and then catching it. He took out a knife and brought it down. He cut the orange into eight slices.

"Hungry?" he asked, bringing the orange slices in hand. He crouched before Louis. When their eyes met, Lou's had their characteristic intensity. He almost seemed not to blink.

Soon a large orange piece was swallowing Louis's vision. It was placed gently in his mouth, the skin facing outward. He chewed. It was a very sweet orange. The juices ran down his chin. It was an itchy, infuriating feeling, the sticky slow movement of the liquid. When he finished chewing and swallowed, Lou picked out the peel and placed another in its place.

Louis hadn't noticed that he'd brought the knife with him. While Louis chewed on the second piece, Lou was making little nicks in him. Every time the tip of the blade touched him, Louis jumped slightly. Up one arm… down the other… then his feet. Then beneath his toenails… very lightly, no bleeding.

When the peel fell off his lips and tumbled down his chest, Lou replaced it with another.

Lou had stopped with the knife. It lay useless on the floor. His thumbs worked the flesh on the soles of Louis's feet. It was much more pleasant than the knife had been, especially without the implied threat. Louis put nothing past Lou.

When the front door slammed open Lou stood up with a jerk, knocking Louis and the chair flat down on the floor. Craning his neck, he could only see the hair on the back of Lou's head.

Two voices. One – "Yeah, that's the kid."

Two – "You're under arrest –"

Before the second man could finish Lou was bolting, his foot landing next to Louis's head. A sharp cracking noise. Louis saw Lou's head cave in. Red blood and other things that must have been inside his head were suddenly everywhere. Louis winced and blinked as blood was in his eye.

He heard no more noise. The two men must have gone. Slowly, Lou's blood crawled along the floor, until it embalmed the half of Louis's face that touched the linoleum. Lou's body only twitched once.