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Red Construction Paper

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The blindfold was removed from my eyes, and I found myself in what appeared to be an empty room. The once white walls were smothered with mildew, and many of the stained ceiling tiles had already collapsed to the cement ground from absorbing too much moisture.

My hands and wrists were bound tightly with zip-ties behind my back. It was impossible to pull them apart. I strained against the zip-ties, but to no avail. My ankles, too, had been bound to the legs of my chair. A filthy rag had already been shoved into my mouth and was tied around the back of my head in a painfully tight knot. I had been stripped of all clothing, save for my boxers and undershirt.

In front of me, taped to the decrepit wall, was a sheet of red construction paper.

“Try to speak, and you are a dead man. Yes... stare at that little piece of red construction paper.” Said a menacing and very deep voice from behind me, “If your eyes leave that paper – and I will know if you do – if even just for an instant, you are a dead man. I dare you to move. Even the slightest. Do it, and you are a dead man. Do you understand me? Yes? No? Maybe? Hmm? Look at me when I am talking to you, you bastard, you beast!”

My eyes remained glued to that damned piece of paper.

“You are shaking. Are you afraid? Why? I see that badge next to your clothing over there. You are a dedicated member of the ever-so-diligent Federal Bureau of Investigation. The way I see it, if you have the courage to attempt a sting on our little... hmm, shall we say, get-together of like-minded individuals, then you certainly have the courage to accept our rather strict policy against peeping Toms.”

I remained silent. All I could think about was wanting to go home! Oh, God! Help me! Somebody... please, help me...

“Are those tears?” He asked, “You sorry, worthless piece of pathetic shit. Do you know what I am going to do to someone like you? Would you like to find out?”

My heart skipped a beat.

“You saw too much, I am afraid. You should never have peeked through that one window. Now you know a little about us... which might as well be everything.” He said lowly, “The breadth of Mecephyrus the Thrice Damned is broad indeed. He is my god – and will soon be yours. My god has requested me to send an invitation to someone like you. But, as it seems, the only way to accept – or refuse – the offer of allegiance with Mecephyrus is through death, you see. You should be honored to have an invitation offered to you – especially by me.”

He paused, placing one hand onto my right shoulder. His touch was as cold as the grave.

“I am known as the Confessor. I am an advocate, a prophet, a messenger, yes, and you are a dog, a bastard, a beast... you may keep sobbing, but it will not help you. You are going to die soon enough.”

No! Oh, God! No! My mind was in a furious, swirling frenzy. I didn't want to die. I didn't want to die! Okay... okay... panicking won't do me any good. Just calm down and think. Think. Think!

“I shall give you two choices, however. Oh, yes, I shall give you the choice of how slowly – or quickly – your death will be. Consider this choice a luxury.”

I wanted so badly to break free from this damned chair!

“Let us begin, shall we?”

A steady stream of lukewarm water began to trickle onto my left leg. In no time, it was soaked through and through.

“I took the liberty of removing your badge, your coat, your tie, your khakis, and that fancy long-sleeved shirt underneath, so they would not get wet. You can keep your glasses. I do not need them. Hmm, it is the little things I do for people that count.” The Confessor chuckled to himself, then proceeded, “There is a water-heater just above your head... oh? Hold on, now.”

I suddenly felt the man's foot kick into the base of the chair, causing it to slide forwards a little. He kicked the chair again and again, until the steady dripping of water fell straightly onto the top of my head. Lukewarm water dripped from my brow and nose, splattering my glasses. Some of it got into my eyes, though my gaze was fixed to the red construction paper, as always.

The Confessor chuckled some more, “Ah, there. Now it is just above your head. Much better. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, the scalding, of course – the boiling, the bubbling of the gristle and – oh – simply cannot to forget about the cheek-meat.” He hummed something disturbing, continuing, “Here, another act of kindness on my behalf.”

A very sharp, burning pain slid down my cheek, drawing blood and splitting the rag that was used to gag me in half. I gasped, drawing uneven breaths as blood filled the inside of my mouth. I assumed the bastard used a knife to cut through the rag and completely through my cheek. I could do nothing but stare ahead and spit copious amounts of blood.

“There. I have given you the gift of speech – though if your eyes move anywhere else than where I told you to look...”

“According to your words, I'm a dead man either way... or so you say.” I said to the Confessor who always stood behind me. I continued, bearing bloody teeth as my undershirt ran red, “If you're gonna kill me, then fucking do it! You will be found, and you will be put down like the sick little bitch you are!”

“Ah, yes, you are a dead man either way, this is true – but – your choices may bar you from a quick death.” Said the Confessor as he wiped the bloodied edge of his knife onto my shoulder, saying then, “I mentioned the water-heater that is directly one floor above you, through the hole in the ceiling there, see?”

I wasn't going to fall of this bastard's tricks.

“As you can guess,” he went on, “It leaks badly, though more water will always flow into it, far faster than what can leak out. Therefore, you can expect the water dripping from that machine to reach a worryingly high temperature in a matter of, say, half an hour, maybe? Yeah, that seems right, seeing as though I made sure a little extra gas would make the flames below it flare up a little higher. Little by little that water will get hotter. In a few hours everything on your head and face will be fork-tender; it will fall right off the bone... unless the water-heater explodes right above you – then everything will be fork-tender, maybe even a little crispy. But I do not think I will get that lucky.”

“They’ll find you.” I said with hate.

“No, they will not.” The Confessor said lowly while giving my right shoulder a hard grab. The Confessor, whoever he was, lowered himself to my right ear, and said into it, “But for you, oh yes, they will find you, your remains, that is.”

By now, I had nothing left to lose. If I’m to die, then let it be from a bullet to the back of my head!

He whispered into my ear, “And when I am finished with you, your family is next, beast.”

The thought of this bastard threatening my family made me lose it, and I head-butted the man in the face with the back of my head. The Confessor let loose a quick grunt while stumbling back a little, and hummed with what sounded like a low growl. I mentally prepared myself for the worst that he could retaliate with. I could do nothing but say a prayer in my head – all this, while staring at that damned piece of construction paper that was still taped the wall.

“My nose… I… bleed. Yes, I, I bleed.” Said the Confessor, whose low voice then shifted into a more sinister, though if somewhat amused tone, “Did that comment of mine strike a chord in you? I shall strike another one, then.”

The Confessor let loose a very distinct whistle. The terrifying blast of a gunshot echoed into this small room, coming from what sounded like the next room. My adrenaline spiked, and dread filled my heart once more. Another loud gunshot rattled the room, dissipating as it echoed through the halls behind me.

“Two bullets. For two temples. The temples of two close friends of yours, your colleagues, your fellow agents.” Said the confessor, “An agent like you rarely works alone. I just knew there must have been others nearby to assist with your so-called sting.”

Townsend! Davidson! No!

“And, unlike you, they did not sob like a child before my assistants ended their lives. They actually died bravely. I shall leave their families alone – oh, but yours, it is a different story.”

“I’ll kill you if you try anything with them, you sick son of a bitch…”

“How so? You will be busy boiling to your death.” Said the Confessor with another sick chuckle, “Ah, but as any good father would. The good ones would gleefully die for the safety and protection of their families, yes, of course.”

“Do whatever the fuck you want with me – just don’t touch my family! I’ll do anything!” I cried out to the man behind me. I could feel the water getting warmer. Panic once again set in. I struggled and strained against the zip-ties. I then realized my situation was hopeless, and I hollered loudly, crying for help and then cursing the man behind me with the worst words I could summon at the time.

“I’ll do anything!” I cried out again, “Don’t touch them!”

My throat was gripped mercilessly by the Confessor, and I could feel his presence once more as he leaned into my left ear. He spoke with a hateful, evil voice, saying, “Your death is still guaranteed, but I will put an offer on the table for you, you beast. Tell me, how far would you go to guarantee the safety of your family? Answer me, beast.”

“I’d do anything…” I said as my eyes remained glued to the same sheet of construction paper, “Anything.”

“Anything, beast?”

I nodded slightly, “Yes. Anything.”

The Confessor asked me, “Your words are not empty, are they?”

“Not right now.”

“Oh, so they used to be, then?”

The water was definitely getting warmer.

I nodded again, “Yes… in the past, but only sometimes though. I have told lies here and there to extract a confession.”

“Ah, so you tormented the condemned with threats in order to obtain your confession?”

I replied, “Yes. I threatened them with heavier jail sentences if they would not confess.”

“How interesting.” The Confessor chuckled, “So you basically torture them in a way?”

“Yes.” I mumbled.

The Confessor’s grip on my throat tightened even further, “You are a torturer.”

“I am.”

The Confessor started to scrape the edge of his knife against my left cheek, in short, little strokes, “I appreciate the morsel of truth you are giving me.” He then began to slowly slide the blade down the length of my cheek, drawing a steady flow of blood. I cringed without realizing that would only worsen the wound. I grunted, drawing uneven breaths through my nose.

Always, always my eyes were fixed to the construction paper.

“I shall in return give to you my own morsel of truth, beast.” He said while slowly sliding the blade even further down, going deeper, “You dare call yourself a torturer, though unlike you, I am actually good at my profession, you see.” He then turned that blade of his to a flat angle, and skewered my tongue and cheeks with that blade while forcefully closing my mouth with his black leather glove. I could do nothing but let another closed howl go from the indescribable pain. I soon found myself nearly unable to breath – I was slowly drowning in my own blood! I squirmed and bellowed in tear-filled agony for what seemed like two eternities, the water getting hotter and hotter all the while, the red sheet of construction paper taped to the wall sprinkled with my own blood.

“Huh. Your forehead is getting red. The water is getting uncomfortably warm, is it not?” The Confessor said, “You ready?”

For what?!

He suddenly yanked the blade from my cheeks, and I let loose the blood that had pooled in my mouth and then some, and then some more. I gasped, lightheaded and horrified. My chest got tighter, and tighter, and tighter. I was having trouble breathing again – my asthma had returned at the worst possible time!

“You are bleeding out more than what I expected. Was my butterfly-knife really that sharp?” The Confessor leaned in towards me, and noticed my trouble breathing. He ignored my silent pleas for my inhaler, and continued to speak, “About that offer, yes, regarding your willingness to do anything for your family… are you still willing to do just that? Anything?”

“Yes-s-th.” I mustered.

My forehead was pulled back suddenly, and the Confessor’s damned blade pierced through the bottom of my mouth and through my tongue, the very tip of his blade buried into the roof of my mouth. I grunted what I could. I wasn’t permitted enough air to scream, that is, from the hot water going down my nose or the blood going down my throat! Again, I was slowly drowning, and my sudden asthma attack wasn’t helping!

My forehead was held back in this fashion for a while. I was on the brink of unconsciousness, when the Confessor then once again yanked his blade from my mouth, and my head fell, slumped onto my shoulder. The water grew only hotter, trickling down the side of my neck.

“You are starting to get blisters on your face, there. And your neck.”

His voice was getting murky. My strength was sapping from my body as I continued to bleed out.

He leaned towards me yet again, saying in my ear, “Are you still willing to do anything, beast?”

I mustered my strength and what little air I could to say, “Yes-s-sth… pleas-s-th… duh-not hur-rt my-y f-family… pleas-s-th…”

“I will spare them – but if they are to live, you must accept the invitation from Mecephyrus the Thrice Damned. Are you willing to get yourself dragged to Hell so your family will be safe from harm, what would have been brought unto them by my hand? Will you join the bestial ranks of Mecephyrus forever and beyond that? Will you accept me as an ally – as a brother – and not a foe? What is your answer?”

I would do anything for my family. Whatever lies ahead of me now is trivial compared to the love that I have for my family. I would trade everything for their safety – even my very soul.

“What is your answer?” The Confessor repeated with anticipation.

“I… will…” I mumbled from whatever remained of my lips.

“So, it has been decided.” The Confessor said as he rose to his feet and got behind me once again, “I will eat some of your flesh to seal our pact.”

Through my swirling vision I couldn’t help but blankly stare at that piece of red construction paper as the scorching hot water dripped from my bloodied face and from my glasses.

“I welcome you, my brother.” He said.

I then heard the click of a cocked trigger, then everything went black… and the world around me… became… very… cold…

(The scene fades to black, then fades in with a still image of the body of whom was the fourth agent in the group, who was never told about.)

The mangled body of Agent Brennings lays here on the sidewalk next to a condemned apartment complex, after he leapt from a balcony from the seventh floor. After his three fellow agents were captured, he assumed the worst and fled from the site of the sting operation. The Confessor’s cultists hounded his every turn, every flight of stairs he took, and kicked down every door in search of the FBI agent. In the excitement of it all, Agent Brennings lost his sidearm and fled inside a room that was beyond disrepair. Before the cultists could grab the man after kicking his door down, the agent leapt from the balcony past the sliding glass doors, and took his life.

He was later identified a day later, when things had calmed down.

(The scene fades back to black, then fades in with a still image of the imminent firefight between the S.W.A.T. team and the fanatical cultists.)

The S.W.A.T. team, along with half a dozen police officers, rushed towards the condemned apartment complex after receiving word of the failed sting, and that the so-called cultists were armed to the teeth and eager to kill. The lawmen were ambushed before arriving near the complex, pinned down by heavy gunfire from nearly all angles. They fought back valiantly against the cultists – though their discipline and training was no match against the sheer fanaticism of the crack-shot cultists, who wore body armor beneath their crimson robes and charged headlong for their position. All twenty-nine S.W.A.T. members and five of the six police officers were killed in the firefight. Only two cultists were killed.

As soon as the firefight ended, the cultists fled from the scene and then disbanded, vowing to reform when things settled down again.

(The scene fades back to black, then fades in with a still image of Agent White’s ruined, charred body, still bound to his chair.)

Agent White was known to have been kidnapped by the cultists after he had failed to scout out the area just prior to the sting. He was taken, tortured, and then killed by a bullet to the occipital lobe. The charred remains of the remaining two agents, Agent Townsend and Agent Davidson, were found later, next to each other. Weeks later, investigators are speculating that White was killed prior to the old water-heater from a higher floor exploding from excessive pressure, rupturing the gas line then igniting the upper floors into a massive fireball. The investigators are adamant that the cultists had somehow supplied the gas needed to fuel the water-heater.

A nation-wide search for the men responsible for this monstrosity remained underway for many weeks, though eventually died down, and things returned to the way they always had been. All four agents were given a respectful burial.

(The scene fades to black again, then fades in with a still image of an unknown man’s burly forearm only, wearing a black glove.)

The Confessor, whoever -- or whatever -- he is, disappears as he always does, kidnapping, torturing, butchering, and cannibalizing wherever he goes. No evidence has ever been traced back to him, and his identity remains unknown

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