Chains, that was what she noticed first, they had used chains this time, not rope. That was certainly not a good sign. Second she noticed that she was still clothed, that was certainly a plus, though it could change. Third she noticed the smell, it wasn't much of a smell, but it was there. She smelled soap. She wasn't clean but the room certainly was. That was different.
She opened her eyes to find the room empty and the light off, light came under the door and it was enough to see that there was nothing else in the room. The room was empty but for her and silent but for her breathing and the sound of the chains.
She had seen the room before, smelled the soap before. She knew where she was and she was surprised by it. Either she had not been told enough or something had happened while she had been gone. She suspected the former.
She knew that there was information that she was missing.
She pulled and found there were chains around her ankles as well as her wrists. She was not held off the ground, but she was held upright. She could stand, but she could not bring her arms down and she could not pull her body up. It seemed that someone had bothered to learn how she had escaped before.
She had been tied up in the same way once and had gotten out after two days of picking at the rope with her fingernails. No one should have known about that yet there she was, chained to the ceiling instead of roped.
She knew the room should have had rope, she remembered the last time she had been there.
This was bad, that was obvious, but it was worse than it seemed, far worse. There was one person she was not allowed to kill and it seemed that that person had decided to provoke her. Unfortunately for her career and continued existence she didn't care enough about the rules imposed on her to ignore this.
She knew she had been there at least two days by the time he came into the room. She had been chained up enough times to know how much it should hurt after two days. She had been chained up for at least forty hours when he came in.
"What are you doing Arty?" she asked him with a sigh. "You know what will happen."
"What're ya doin'?" He asked in return. "Are ya threatenin' me?"
She didn't react, as she was her preference.
"You remember the last guy?" he asked. "A good friend of mine, and you blew his brains all over his wife. And then you threw her into the pool."
"And you wanted to fuck her, I know," she said with her smile that really wasn't a smile. "I do not choose, remember?"
"I can't punish my father," he pointed out. "That leaves you."
If she could have shrugged, she would have. Given that she had her arms chained above her head she settled for the cold stare that had always bothered him. His exact words had been: "I know ya need to be cold for the job, but you're over doing it."
She hadn't been cold, she had still been in shock.
It was still the same cold stare, still the same coping mechanism. It had become the norm and not the exception after so long in her line of work. The thing was that she was good at it, she wouldn't have ever thought that she would be good at killing, but she was.
He hit her, she wasn't surprised and she wasn't fazed. "I always hated that look," he complained.
He hit her again and again, but tied as she was and accustomed as she was to such treatment it didn't much faze her. He wasn't a strong man but he was certainly angry and he was quite well prepared for her.
He stayed there for hours, hitting her over and over, stomach, face, chest, arms. He beat her until he could not continue and she did not react. She just stood there in his sterile room and let him beat her, she could do nothing else so she thought of nothing else. There was nothing else there.
She didn't sag in the chains when he left but the stone leached from her face and she coughed violently for what felt like a long time. It wasn't the worst she had ever experienced after being caught but she knew it would go on much longer.
She was chained in that room for four days before she slept, it wasn't the longest she had ever been awake by any stretch and it wasn't the worst four days she had ever been put through. She had once been awake for close to seven days and that had been a very, very, bad week.
She woke to find that she felt better, not by much, but a little. She knew she had been taken down while she had slept, she also knew she had been sedated, she could still feel it once she woke. She had been washed and someone had wrapped her wrists and ankles.
The chains didn't chafe anymore but they pulled now that she didn't have the strength to hold herself up. He came back that next day and commented on the fact that she had been asleep, and that she had been sedated and what he could have done in that time.
She knew he hadn't done what he suggested, she knew this for three reasons. The first was that he was too afraid of her to do it, he was too afraid she would wake and have been faking the sedation. Second was the obvious, she wasn't his type. She more masculine than he was, and taller, and you could count her ribs by the sound of her hollow chest. Third was because she didn't feel like it had been done to her.
She had never had it done to her, it was one of the few forms of torture that had never been used on her, but she knew that it changed something. There was something that would have been broken if he had lived up to his threat, and so she hung there with her cold gaze.
She could no longer stop herself from reacting to the punishment he gave her but the cold stare never left her face. It was the face of someone who was hiding, she hid everything but her pain within herself and he would not get it out.
"Why did ya kill that first man?" he asked her on the fifth day.
It was not what she had expected him to ask. The first man she had ever killed had died in secret in the house of a drug dealer, no one knew about that first man, or his friend. The first man that Arty knew of was the reason for her cold gaze. She had never told anyone why she had done it but she knew that Arty's father and brother knew, it was not a stretch.
She said nothing, after three years in that line of work, three terrible years, her reason was one of the two things she still cared about. It was no longer first on her list though, it was no longer her drive, or she would have died long ago.
He was going to have to fight for that information.
It was three more days before she slept and again she knew she had been sedated and she knew that she had been taken down and had the blood cleaned from her skin and the cuts she had acquired had been stitched and bandaged.
There was a doctor there, someone paid to keep her alive as long as she could be kept alive without food. She wondered if he knew that there were stitches, wondered if he knew that she was being cared for. But she knew that he had designed this place, it had been his idea to keep the people he imprisoned alive as long as they could be.
He came back that day but he did not touch her.
"Apparently ya needed stitches," he informed her. "How can ya possibly be so thin that ya can cut yerself on yer own bones?"
"You know how often I work and what I do," she replied.
He laughed. "I surely do," he admitted. "And I know where it has landed ya."
"You know where I am," she corrected him.
He visibly struggled not to hit her for that. "I bin told not to hit ya for a couple of days," he told her. "Yer lucky I listen to my doctor."
The odd thing about that sentiment was that he was wrong. She wasn't lucky that he listened to the doctor. She could have gotten out far sooner if he hadn't listened to him and had instead retaliated for her correcting him.
He left her alone for four days and when she slept again the stitches came out and he was back with a vengeance. She was surprised by his anger, but he was still not a strong man, he was probably the weakest man who had ever caught her. Of course he hadn't done it himself.
He barely held himself back after the stitches came out and the wounds reopened within the first hour but he didn't care. He had grown tired of her. The only problem he had then was the list of things he wouldn't do, which included knives and guns.
She didn't sleep the night after the wounds reopened and she didn't sleep the night after that, she was busy looking for something she could do, but there was nothing. She couldn't move her feet, couldn't move her hands and had far from enough strength regardless.
It was he who gave her the opening she needed. Arty overdid it, more than usual he overdid it.
"Why did you have to kill them?" he asked, he was serious this time. "I know you always ask for reasons and I know my father tells you the truth. What did Jerry do? What did Pete do?"
She had killed two of his friends in recent months, both at the behest of his father. "They did nothing," she replied.
He hit her, of course. There were no stitches this time to stop him hitting her.
"Tell me why you killed them," he insisted.
"Your father wanted to teach you a lesson," she told him. "They did nothing."
"They did nothing?" he confirmed.
It was the smile that got him, as she knew it would. She gave him her smile that was not a smile and nodded. She enjoyed baiting him even if he did have the option of killing her right there and then, but she knew he wouldn't. He enjoyed his game too much to kill her.
Severe injuries, however, could be inflicted.
He overdid it, as she knew he would. He hit her again and again and she knew he was upset and she seemed to be unable to quite get the smile off her face. She was an actor, and a good one, by that point. She knew she could make him angrier and angrier until he overdid it.
And he just kept going, he broke three of her ribs, she felt them break and then came the blow to the head, and the world went out. He stopped then, when she sagged in the chains, he thought her dead or knew her unconscious, it didn't matter.
The doctor took her down but refused to sedate her, he didn't want her dead and so she was not sedated while unconscious. That wouldn't have been an opening for many other people, but for her it certainly was.
She didn't quite stay out for long enough, she was out for a while, but not quite as long as she needed to be. Her ribs were set and her cuts were stitched and she was left on the bed until she stirred when people came to move her back to the chains.
It had been a long time since she stirred when she woke.
Two men she knew, she worked with them and they cared as little for her as she for them. She didn't at all mind beating one man's face into a bloody pulp against the tiled wall of Arty's little facility. His friend minded her doing so, but he was not given the chance to voice his opinion.
Thugs did not have the reflex that she had, they did not have the skill and they did not have the resolve that she had. She didn't need to breathe to continue in her duties, but they did. She jabbed one man in the throat and twisting out of his suddenly lax grip she took a hold of the other man's head and kicked herself off from the wall.
The tiles had given way to the concrete beneath and the man wasn't even twitching anymore by the time his friend had recovered himself enough to lunge at the tall woman who had just finished killing his friend. Even in his anger he knew better than drawing his gun. Unfortunately he did not also know better than trying to attack the ghost.
She had always enjoyed her long fingers, many other women had also enjoyed her long fingers, but this time they were useful for a completely different reason. She tripped the big man and sat on his back as he hit the ground, using her legs to stop him from pushing himself up. She did not weigh enough to stop him getting up.
She pulled his head up and with one hand, she covered his mouth and with the other and she took his sight. He tried as best he could to scream and scream, but she had big hands and even she could barely hear the sound he made.
She wrapped an arm around his neck and squeezed until he stopped trying to scream and then she just kept squeezing. She felt his pulse start to slow and then stop completely and still she held his airway closed. She finally let him go and made very sure that he wasn't going to take another breath before she got up and retraced their rout back to the surgery.
The doctor was silent as she took sedatives from the cupboard, he tried to protest when she used one on him, but she silenced him. She knew where she would find Arty, she also knew that the only other person she might find in the place was a cleaner.
The cleaner would have come only after she had died.
The first time she had seen the place had been almost three years previously, the first day she had met Arty. She had been taken to the place where she had found a man she didn't know tied to the ceiling of the room she had been chained in. She had been told to kill him and she had been told honestly when she asked that he had stolen a great deal of money.
Arty didn't even notice her entering the room he kept in the place, he just sat there, glued to the television, almost like he hadn't had a woman chained up underneath his house. He no longer had a woman chained up under his house, but really he should have worried about that more.
She injected the sedative into his neck and didn't much care about the noise he made.
She wanted to sit down, then, she wanted to lie down on his couch and go to sleep and not worry about anything, anymore. But she couldn't, she still had something that needed to be worried about. There was still a man there who wished to kill her and probably wouldn't be quite so hesitant about it anymore.
With a sigh she lifted him off the couch and dragged him down the stairs into his oversized basement. She dragged him to where she knew the cell was and there she found that the mechanism that lowered the chains had been behind her, as she had suspected. It struck her as odd that he hadn't put it in front of her, just to taunt her.
She lowered the chain until she could restrain his hands and then lifted it until he was just off the ground and clamped shut the manacles around his fat ankles. In the time she had known Arty he had gone from around average to almost obese.
It was for this reason that one of his shirts fit her despite the fact that she was almost a foot taller than the man. She had decided that she didn't want to keep the bloodstained clothes she had been wearing for over a week. She knew that none of his pants would fit her so she was forced to keep her own. She was incredibly glad to find her shoes and her wallet and phone. The only number she wanted from her phone was one she had memorised anyway.
She made her way back down the stairs into the cell in which she had been kept and waited for him to wake. Arty woke with a start to find himself in a rather compromising position. He had inherited his power and his influence, they did not come from him and he had not earned them. He had nothing to show for gaining them but his spoiled personality.
"I'll give you anything you want if you let me go," he told her immediately.
"I think I will have to check with your father about that," she told him, and with that she retrieved her phone and called his father.
"Ghost," he said. He was a very good liar, but he had been caught by surprise. "What can I do for you? You don't have any more jobs yet."
"I have your son here in chains," she told him. "Will we be square if I release him?"
The was a pause on the other side of the line. "If he is unharmed we will be square," he replied. If he had stopped there she would have believed him. "No one will come after you if you leave him there."
She sighed. "I thought you were a good liar," she told him before hanging up. To her prisoner she said. "I guess your father doesn't much care for you."
"Please don't kill me," the man was practically crying.
"Why ever not?" she asked. "My finance is far from lacking, you have nothing to offer me."
"I'll do anything," he pleaded.
"Will you listen?" she replied. "You wanted to know why I killed that first man?" she asked, he was perplexed. "Did you read the police report? Your father did. Or even the news paper report?"
He shook his head.
"The man shot my lover, right in front of me," she told him. "So I got him back."
He didn't know what to say.
With a sigh she stepped forward and he flinched. "Your father said you could have me," she said, she knew this. "He was going to let you kill me so that I could not get out, he was too afraid to do it himself."
He nodded like she was asking.
"I need to pay him back for that," she told him. "He didn't kill me so I won't kill him."
Arty appeared to take this to mean that she wouldn't kill him either. This was not the case. She appeared the scalpel she had taken from his doctor's office and made very sure he could see it. He had a surprisingly familiar reaction to the news of his impending demise. Surprising not because it was unusual but because it was not. For some, odd, reason she had expected him to react differently.
"As much as I would like to make you regret your actions, I do not have the time," she told him. "You are little more than a message to your father regardless."
He broke down completely then, crying like a small child.
"Did the women you kept here cry like that?" she asked. She killed him without waiting for an answer.