“We still doin’ this shit or what?” Kelvin asks as he lights his cigarette.

“Yeah, fuck it why not, right?” I say. “But don’t be smoking inside my living room, you dumbass. My parents may be gone and shit, but that don’t give you permission to stink up my whole house with that nasty crap.”

Kelvin rolls his eyes, smiles a little, and crushes the white stick against the wooden floor. Little bits of ash peels off from the cig. He tucks the stick inside one of the many pockets on his flashy and colorful jacket. The stench that seeps out of his clothing consists of some fancy cologne, and the reeking scent of nicotine. “You better clean up all that debris too, ya hear?”

“Ight, ight chill out willya?” Kelvin gathers the gray ash with his fingers and palms. He picks himself off from the floor, and walks to the kitchen. “Hey man, you got any juice that I can drink or something?”

“Check the fridge,” I inform him. “There should be some Ginger Ale, if you want soda. Or some Tropicana juice I believe.”

“Yo! If there’s some Ginger Ale, serve me some por favor,” Michael speaks up. His neck and arms lay sluggishly against the couch, while the bottom half of his body sits on the floor with the rest of us.

“Matter of fact, make that three if there’s some Ginger,” Mark jumps in. He lays close to Michael while distracting himself with his iPhone. Almost every few seconds his thumbs would double tap against the screen, probably liking some pretty bitch’s photo on Instagram. “Yo Danny! Check out this hot ass chick.”

“Let me guess, is it Lesly or somethin’?” Danny questions. He also sits on the floor with his phone in his hands, but huddles near a corner next to the closest door inside my living room. Instead of ogling at hot babes on social media, however, Danny occupies himself with “8 Ball Pool”. The bastard began playing that game about a month ago, and ever since then he has been infatuated with it every time we hang out. I challenged him once in a while, since I started playing the game originally, but he’s grown tired of winning against me.

“Damn, how’d chu know?” Mark laughs. I turn my attention towards Michael to see if he wants to start off a conversation, but he instead untangles his headphones in order to listen to his music. Life at this day and age is a bitch if you don’t have a fucking phone, I think to myself. I just had to drop my own iPhone while taking a shit and scrolling through funny videos on Twitter.

“Cause, lately you’ve been talking about that bitch a lot,” Danny says, his eyes still fixated on his stupid game.

“Yo, but she gotta fat ass, though. Like I can’t even begin to think what I would do if I ever saw her naked and shit…”

Kelvin returns with the drinks. He hands Michael and Mark theirs, and surprises me when he offers me a cup. “I thought you’d like some, since this is your house and shit.”

“Good lookin’ homie,” I say, and gulp down the Ginger Ale in a single slurp. That shit is my crack. The way I drink Ginger Ale is the exact same way Kelvin inhales all of those cancer-inducing sticks of his. The same Friday my parents left for the weekend, I supplied my fridge with around four two-gallon bottles of that stuff. By the guilty look in Kelvin’s eyes, I could already tell we need to purchase more soon.

“You mind if I eat some of your cereal right after we shoot this film?” Kelvin asks. I nod my head as a response, regretting the fact I finished my drink too soon.

“You guys ready?” Kelvin asks, and claps his hands several times. “C’mon, lettme get everyone’s attention, please.” Mark takes his time listening to Kelvin, but eventually he locks his phone, pushes back his glasses, and gazes at the both of us. Danny notices how quiet the room becomes, and also proceeds to lock his phone. I can tell by the wide grin on his face that he just won his twentieth game this night. Soon enough, one of these bastards are going to ask for my iPhone charger. I guarantee it.

“Someone get this nigga’s attention,” I say, and point towards Michael. The dude just sits there bobbing his head, bumping his music with the volume so loud we can all hear J. Cole rapping about Uncle Phil. Mark taps his shoulder. Michael picks his head up tentatively, takes off one headphone, and glimpses around the room.

“Wassup?” he says, his voice placid and low as usual.

“We bout to do this shit with Kelvin,” Mark explains. “Ight man. Tell us the plan.”

“Well, basically I want to use Espinoza’s basement for this one scene in my short film, cause I thinks it fits perfect with the theme,” Kelvin clarifies. “It’s still okay with chu, right, man?”

“Sure, just as long as we don’t lose anything, and we fix whatever mess we make afterwards,” I say. “I see no problem.”

“Ight, awesome. Well, I told you guys the roles, right?”

“Yes,” Michael interrupts. “And for your information, I ain’t plannin’ on wearing no wig. You better not give that part to me, son.”

“I thought we decided I’d wear it,” I say. “I really don’t mind. It’d be fun and shit.”

“Yeah, but I was kinda plannin’ on having you be the guy who’s tied up,” Kelvin suggests. “I picture, hmm, Daniel wearing the wig. Yeah! Yo, you’d look great with it. Honestly bro, that part is meant for you.”

“I guess I’m wearing the wig then,” Danny says. Honestly, Kelvin must be desperate if he pleaded for us to partake in his little film project. Before, he told me that he plans on sending this short movie to this university he wishes to attend. They, the film school I guess, requests Kelvin to submit his most recent and best project by the end of January, and anything delivered past that day will be ignored. The dude always tends to complete and polish his work last minute. I tell him it’s a bad habit of his, just like his smoking one, but he chooses to resist proper discipline.

So of course, he begs his friends, with no acting background at all, to help him. I see no problem with it, however. I enjoy doing new things, and it beats just hanging inside my living room, watching some lackluster horror movie while everyone simply toys around with their damn phones. And who knows, maybe if I play my role right, recite my lines with perfection, I might just discover that I adore acting. Plus if we manage to create something all the bitches over there would like, that means instant popularity with some college chicks.

And you can’t say no to college chicks. That’s, like, against the code of masculinity.

”Okay, but what I don’t get is why Danny needs to wear a freaking wig,” Mark complains, as he always does with most of our plans. I just laugh whenever he makes an outburst like this. “Like, how exactly does it add to feel of this film?”

“Cause,” Kelvin begins. “Danny’s going to play the dysfunctional leader of the band of killers I have in mind. You and Michael are going to be, well, I guess you can call yourselves his ‘subordinates’. But trust me, you guys are equally as respected like Danny. Just that Danny’s the leader and shit.”

“Doesn’t that make Danny’s title futile?” Michael adds his two-cents.

“Okay, Danny’s just a bit better,” Kelvin explains. “But basically what I have in mind is that we tie up Espinoza with duct tape, and have him lay around the garage before I start filming. I have to see how exactly I wish to begin. Can we go to the garage now?”

“Anytime you want to bro,” I say. “It’s your call at this point.”

The five of us gather our stuff, and head downstairs. Kelvin carries with him his camcorder, and his backpack filled with all of the props for the movie. Every time we all get together to chill, I always see Kelvin with that backpack as if it’s a part of his body. I remember I once rummaged through his stuff, since he asked me to fish out his speakers, and I dug through a collection of hand-drawn notebooks of his, and albums ranging from rap artist like Kendrick Lamar to his favorite punk band, Nirvana. The dude’s obsess with every type of entertainment known to man.

I open the door to my garage, and already I feel the rush of cold hair blast right in front of me. “It’s a little chilly in here guys,” I tell them. “I hope you don’t mind, right?”

“Nah, it’s perfect,” Kelvin says. “It goes hand-in-hand with the overall image I’m tryna to portray in this shot.”

The five of us barge inside. I nearly stumble on some dumbbells left near the entrance door. This place ain’t the best-looking thing in the world. All types of junk remains scattered all throughout the floor, from old toys when I was a child, to more exercising equipment I occasionally use. What most irritates me are the racks that stand near the walls of my garage. My parents must’ve set up those bitches a while back, but through time the metal transformed from a clean silver to a rusty bronze. All types of shit from back in the day accommodate those open shelves. This garage of mine is a graveyard of all of my house’s old possessions.

I lean my right arm against a tool table to my right, the top of this furniture clustered with several appliances. “So, whacha think?”

“I think this is perfect,” Kelvin giggles. I see his eyes scan the scenery, the look on his face that of excitement. “Damn, I can even see my own breath by how cold it is down here.”

Both Michael and Mark begin to shiver, and I see them zip up their black hoodies. Of course Danny isn’t the slightest bit bothered by the cold. He seems just fine with his red T-shirt.

The four of them roam around my garage a bit, and observe almost every little object inside every damn shelve and cabinet. They grab hold of my parent’s expired tax papers, scavenge through my dad’s old Bruce Lee VCR tapes, and I just stand there trying not to be annoyed and shit. Whenever these guys come, or any of my friends for that matter, they force me to deal with their avid curiosity. Usually after any hangout with my friends, my parents would lecture me on how I need to stop them from disorganizing the entire house. It’s annoying as hell, yes, but I can’t say shit to them.

I know damn well I do the same crap in their homes.

“Yo, Espinoza?” Kelvin calls out.

“What’s good?”

“Can we use this right here?” he asks, and sits down on a couch from over a lifetime ago. As far as I know, that couch has been inside this garage my entire life. The furniture remains close to the end of my garage, leaning against the gate that slides open with the touch of a button. Dust puffs up the moment Kelvin begins jumping up and down on the cushions. A lot of evocative stains paint the top layer of the covers, probably the result of spilled liquor, coffee, and other drinks.

“Yeah sure why the fuck not.” I say. I always hated that couch, though. First of all whatever material they made it out of, clearly they never thought of comfort at all. Their plan must’ve been to abuse whoever buys this, since you can barely lay on it without the cushion scraping your goddamn skin off. The entire couch is constructed of some thick material, and what’s worse is that the pattern consists of tiny edges looping up and down, which makes the couch even more rough and uncomfortable. I know furniture like this is meant for just sitting, but even then your legs manage to end up ripped as if someone rubbed a cheese-grater against your calves.

“Okay, you’re probably going to be laying on top of the couch while tied up,” Kelvin tells me. Great. Now I gotta deal with that shit.

“Fine, whatever you say, Mr. Directoor.” I say, laugh, and shove Kelvin with my elbow. “Damn, I can’t believe you’re actually doing this shit. It’s great though how you’re going through with your plan.”

Kelvin glances at me, and offers his most unenthusiastic smile, his dimples still noticeable, however. The little guy sighs in what seems to be either frustration or annoyance. “Yeah, but I’m just so damn nervous about this. It’s whatever. Let’s just get this show going!”

“Well, we’re waiting,” Michael says. “Whenever you want to start…”

“Alright here’s what I want you guys to do,” Kelvin starts. “I wanna clear up some of the space right here in the middle, cause I plan on having the three of you,” he indicates to Michael, Daniel, and Mark, “approach Espinoza later on in the scene as he’s laying down on the couch.

“I wanna start the film by having the three killers enter inside the basement, so after all of us do everything to prepare, we’re going to exit the garage, except Espinoza, of course. As we move along from shot to shot, I’ll tell you guys what to say. Everything clear?”

“Yeah, it seems easy enough,” Danny says.

“Well, you better act with as much confidence, since I want this shit to be A1, got that?”

“C’mon!” Mark exclaims. “I’m Oscar-winning, all-time-favorite sensation, no one other than Mark Gutierrez. I got this shit, boy!”

“Yeah, yeah, horse-face,” Michael mouths off, calling our poor friend Mark by the most offensive name. “You can’t do a goddamn thing right.”

“Whachu say, bitch?” Mark spits. “Boy! I’ll roast you right here, right now. Don’t try me-“

“Both of you guys, shut up!” Kelvin interrupts. “C’mon we gotta do this shit quickly.” We all laugh it off. I can already tell we’re not going to finish this by tonight.

The five of us empty out the space right in the middle of the garage, and by empty out I mean we throw and sling all of the weights, boxes, and other shit at one another. Still, we end up doing a great job of cleaning up the mess.

Kelvin delves inside his backpack, and takes out a large tube of black duct tape. “Get comfortable and ready, because after this you won’t be moving for a long, long time.” The way he says it intimidates me a bit, but I guess Kelvin only did this to frighten me, and make me look like a pussy in front of the guys.

“Oh shit,” Kelvin says. “Before that, however, I want to make you look like a believable hostage. Take off both of your shoes, and then just remove a single sock.”

“Damn bro! Do you know how cold it is up in this bitch?” I stare at him, perplexed. “Do you want me to get sick or some shit? My feet are going to be freezing.”

“Don’t be such a little bitch,” Michael says.

“I don’t see you doing this shit,” I strike back. “I’m the one who’s going to be cold as fuck most of the time. You bitches are going to be wearing all the clothes you want.”

“C’mon man just do it, please,” Kelvin repeats himself.

“Fuck it! I mean, we’re already down here, so why not.” I untie my black boots, fling my shoes at both Michael and Kelvin—they both fail to block my throws—and remove my left sock.

“I think I just look like some lazy bum now,” I complain. “Shit it’s cold here. Hurry it up so I can place my foot on the damn couch to try to get warm.”

Kelvin stretches out the duct tape, the thing making that pleasurable ripping sound, and begins to tie my feet together. I sit on the couch in order to give him more space for comfort. “Watch out you don’t tape my leg hairs while you’re doing that shit, please. I don’t want to take off the tape after we’re done with this, and end up removing my damn skin.”

“I know, I know,” Kelvin reassures me.

After some time, he finally finishes with taping my ankles. I can barely wiggle my damn feet. “Alright,” Kelvin says, “now turn around so I can tie your hands behind your back.”

I do as he says, and let my friend wrap my wrists. I feel a bit awkward by the end of it, since you know, I don’t usually spend my time with my hands and feet tied, but I deal with my uncomfortable posture. I sit my ass back down on the couch, and wait for further instructions.

“I’m also going to tape your mouth shut,” Kelvin tells me, of course after tying me up.

“You would do some shit like this,” I mouth off. “Right after tying me up, you would just now tell me my mouth needs to be taped shut. Ugh. Fuck you.”

Kelvin laughs to himself as he stretches out a final layer of tape. “Ight man. You won’t be able to talk for a while. Any last words.” Oddly on cue, the rest of our friends surround me. They block out the faint garage light from above, and leave me staring at their darken silhouettes.

Last words, huh? “Umm, let’s see. I don’t know, I love eating ass? Who the hell cares? Just put that shit on me already.” The guys laugh, and Kelvin seals my lips with the tape. Already saliva begins to leak out of my mouth, and I drool all over the bottom part of the tape. I could already tell I am going to be uncomfortable and peevish for the duration of the night.

I guess it’s for my friend. So with this in mind, I persist to stay with a positive attitude. I find it cool how all of us are helping our friend pursue his dream of becoming a director, especially since Kelvin seems so passionate about it. He always sacrifices his time and money for his projects, equipment, and movies in order to study the greats—I know for a fact Quentin Tarantino is his favorite director. Nowadays, you barely see anybody with as much ambition and vision like my friend Kelvin. I admire him for that.

My friends leave their post, and begin to walk away from me. I listen as Kelvin explains to them exactly what they need to do. I see as they smile and make jokes with each other, and something about that sight makes me happy.

Slowly their voices begin to fade, and then the sounds of them talking completely cuts off the moment Mark slams the door shut with a loud bang, the echo of the noise lingering in the air.

I’m left all alone in my freezing and ominous garage.

Well, I might as well try to get comfortable. If that’s freaking possible. I swing my legs on top of the couch, and shake around a bit until I lay as comfortable as I can get. Most of my body weight goes on top of my left arm, so this stops the blood circulation on that limb, which furthers contributes to my discomfort. Not only that, but my arms feel disjointed since they’re forced behind my back. I try not to shift into a different position, since I assume Kelvin will want me to face the “killers” as they enter inside.

A couple of minutes pass by, and they still haven’t returned. Scratching noises emits from the walls surrounding me, probably some rodents or other animals roaming outside my house. I lay here, bored as shit, not having a single clue how to entertain myself as I wait impatiently for my friends to come. I think of humming some song in order to kill time, but after a minute of trying to decide what rap joint I should do, I discard the thought entirely.

They always do this shit. I sometimes feel as if the four of them really don’t like me that much. I mean, we all treat each other the same and everything, and we all tend to hangout on most weekends. But sometimes I feel they just share some deep aversion towards me. Whenever I’m alone with the four of them, I feel it there the most. Sometimes we’ll meet up with more of our friends, and that hatred I feel they have towards me will disappear a bit. But still, I secretly think they all talk so much shit about me, and this thought both infuriates and saddens me.

I mean look at what they just did to me now. They leave me here alone, isolated from the rest of them. Maybe the only reason why Kelvin chose me to be the guy tied up is because he wants to exclude me. Kelvin knows damn well my chemistry with Michael and everyone else is nowhere near the connection they all share, so he leaves me out. I guess I have no problem with this, because fuck it, they were all close friends before I came into the picture. Still, some hunch tells me they despise me every time they even look at me.

I start to think they’re pulling off some mean prank by tying me up all alone and vulnerable, and them abandoning me for the rest of the night, leaving me hopeless and unable to free myself until my parents come home. This rumination makes me panic a bit, and I ponder about shouting for some salvation. But then I remember my mouth is taped up, and I start to realize how utterly fucked I am.

No. No, I know these bastards. As much as we can all be assholes to each other sometimes, doing something like that is just being a huge dick for no reason. Even if they truly do share some distaste for me, at least they’re clever and furtive enough to keep it subtle.

The silence gets to my head. I sweat profoundly even though moments ago I felt as if I was trapped inside a freezer. My damn nose begins to itch. I think of swiping it against the couch, but I have an idea that the damn material will not only alleviate my itch, but also peel off some of my skin. With this in mind, I simply rub my nose against my shoulder.

I sometimes think about asking them why I feel as if they deeply hate me, but I know it’ll be the weirdest thing to ever bring up. I try to think of a reason why they should, but fail to come up with anything.

In the past, I guess I use to exclude them in a lot of things. I never really invited them to most of my hangouts with my other friends, and I guess they took that to the heart. I hold myself accountable for this.

But I know there are some explanations for why they hate me that they have no reason to bring up, or use as an excuse to ostracize me. See some of the girls they went out with, I was also very close to them as well. It wasn’t at a level at all where they should be suspicious of me necking their girls on the low, but I’d admit I can be a tad bit too friendly with my lady friends. It’s not my fault, I guess. It’s just part of my character. No matter what, however, I never did anything to try to get their girlfriends to cheat on them, or did I ever think about going out with them right after they broke up. I follow and oblige to the rules of the bro code, and doing that shit ain’t right.

I hear the distant sound of their voices, and grow happy at the thought that they didn’t leave me behind. I see the doorknob rattle a bit, and finally the door opens wide. Michael, Danny, and Mark pour inside, and step towards the wooden table while Kelvin films them from behind. “Cut!” he shouts, and stops recording.

Kelvin joins everyone else, and they all start to laugh and joke around with one another. I, once again, feel completely detached from them, and I simply just accept the way things go. It seems pointless finding out why they feel this way towards me, and trying to make amends with them. In a couple of more months, we’ll all be graduating from the same shitty high school, and off we will be with our lives. I won’t have them, and they won’t have to deal with my disdaining appearance. At the end of the day, we’ll all be a little bit happier.

Kelvin comes up to me, and places a hand on my shoulder. “Howya doin’ buddy?” I simply shrug my shoulders, and gingerly nod my head.

“Don’t worry man, we’ll get through this quick enough that way you ain’t uncomfortable and shit. We still have some more material to film, but after that we’ll go back to having fun and all. We were thinking of sleeping over if that’s okay with you?”

This astonishes me a bit. They never asked to sleep over my house. I quickly see this as an opportunity for me to fix this goddamn problem once and for all. I nod my head once again, but this time with more excitement than before.

“Awesome!” Kelvin says. “Okay. We’re about to shoot the part where Danny pulls out a box-cutter, and begins to toy with your mind that he’s going to gut you and shit. What I want you to do is look as horrified and as distress as possible, got that? I won’t tell you exactly what to do, but just rely on your own instincts. I think you got this.”

I nod my head yet again, wanting to give my friend the same reassurance I wish they can provide me with.

“Alright guys, let’s get ready for our next shot!” Michael, Danny, and Mark all stop talking, and look up at Kelvin. “You guys remember what I told you, right? Get into the next position.”

I so want to say “that’s what she said”, but this damn tape prevents me from making a pun.

Danny moves towards the wooden tool table near the entrance of the door, and leans his back and elbows on top. Both Michael and Mark stand right next to Danny on his right and left side.

Kelvin reaches inside his backpack once again, and retrieves a box-cutter. He flings the weapon at Danny, and he catches it with just his two fingers—very skillfully, I should add.

“Okay,” Kelvin begins. “I want Danny to start off without a wig, but when he gestures towards Michael to hand it over, you do exactly that. Remember your lines, guys. Danny, I want you to get to that psychotic attitude like we said before. On three. One. Two…” Kelvin aims the camera at the three “killers”.


Danny starts off by licking his lips, and turning the box-cutter with his index and middle finger. I figure I might as well get into my persona, and I begin to breathe immensely, as if I am panicking out of sheer terror. I wiggle around a bit in order to elaborate on my struggle to free myself, and moan in confusion. I know the camera isn’t focused on me yet, but these background noises should add to the overall feel of the video, as Kelvin always says.

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” Danny says his line. The three of them glare down at me with petrified hatred and disgust. Michael’s jaw locks with a brusque and disgruntled look, while Mark’s lips twist with a grimy expression. Danny’s face appears apathetic, but his eyes show hidden signs of dismay. I give them credit for sending off such realistic innervating energy. “Do you know why you’re here?”

The camera turns to me, and I don’t give off a clear response. Instead I continue to trash around, and increase the pitch of my moan. I try to mumble a few words, but fail to sound comprehendible. Kelvin focuses on Danny and his group of badasses once again.

Danny reaches out his hand towards Michael, and he proceeds to hand Danny the blonde and messy wig. I almost laugh out loud at how hideous and funny the damn thing looks, and I can’t help but to slightly get out of character the moment Danny places the rag of hair on top of his head. Streaks of thick and dirty hair conceal some parts of Danny’s face. The guy tries his hardest to fix the wig, but eventually leaves it as it is.

This time, however, Kelvin aims the camera at me only, and he holds that single shot for a while without anyone saying a word. At first I assume Kelvin wishes for me to act in a distressed and claustrophobic matter, so I begin to swing my shoulders and legs around. I even attempt to scream through the layer of tape sealing my lips, and I manage to produce a low and gurgling grumble that roughens my throat a bit. When this doesn’t work, I really start to slam my entire body against the couch, nearly breaking my damn bones. With each collision I feel the sting of the cushion sliding against my skin, and the pain helps me force out some fake tears to further elucidate my breakdown.

After all of this, however, Kelvin keeps the camcorder aimed at me without muttering a single word. Nothing escapes out of Michael’s, Mark’s, or Danny’s lips as well. In the middle of my outrage, I completely stop.

I shrug my shoulders, and raise my chin, as if to say, “What’s the deal?” Kelvin just stands there with the camcorder on his hands, still recording me. I know this because I see the red dot at the front of the camera blinking at me, as if mocking me in my situation. This puts me in a very uncomfortable position. I recline back on the couch a bit, and try not to make eye-contact with either one of my friends.

This is all for the effect of the movie. I have to quit this unreasonable attitude right now. Even as I try to convince myself, however, I fail to shake off this feeling of unease.

Danny finally moves. He places his thumb against the lever of the utensil, and raises the blade. The tip of the knife winks right at me, the silver surface reflecting the white garage light from above. I start to calm myself down, and feel relieve that Danny is only continuing playing his role.

But then I fix my gaze back at Kelvin, and spot that he hasn’t focused back on Danny. If anything, he seems to have zoomed the lens closer to my position. I tense up again, and this time I thrash my body around with legitimate fear. My moans of spurious terror transforms to faint shrieks of realistic trepidation at what malicious acts await me.

Danny takes his time approaching me, his expression tasteless and cold. He holds onto the box-cutter with a mean grip, and from behind, Michael and Mark follow his steps. The first of many tears spill from my eyes, and I attempt to push the tape out of my lips with my tongue. I fail to penetrate through the impervious layer, however, and end my persistence the moment I bite my bottom lip by accident. A small trickle of blood soaks the tape, and drips onto my chin.

Danny steps right in front of me. I unleash a cry straight from the depths of my stomach, and drop down to my knees. I plead with my inaudible words and mumbles to not do this to me, and to forgive me for whatever problems I ever caused them. I pound my forehead against Danny’s thighs and stomach, and gaze at him with blurry and pitiful eyes to save me from this torment. Please! Please don’t fucking do this to me! Danny! DANNY! PLEASE! I BEG OF YOU!

My thoughts, however, are as silent to them as the pain they have always caused me.

Danny only continues to gaze at me with those colorless eyes of his. He takes hold of my hair, and pulls my head with a tenacious grip. I start to inhale and exhale with desperation, and try to break free from the tape. I pull my arms and legs hard, but fail to rip the goddamn things off. This time I go for the offense, and try to crash my skull against Danny’s crotch. This, however, backfires when Danny simply yanks my hair away from his vulnerable area.

All at once, I stop my struggle.

“Get em’ nice an’ good now, guys,” Danny mutters. Michael and Mark glance at each other, and nod their heads.

They go straight to it. The both of them kick, punch, shove, and knee every part of my body. Each blow to my gut forces all the air out of my lungs. Every shot feels worse than the previous one. All parts of my body, from my face all the way to my thighs, sting like a bitch. I feel my cheeks and neck start to swell with agonizing bruises. Michael jabs a quick, but powerful, punch to my nose. A gush of blood sprays out of my nostrils as if he punctured a ketchup bottle.

More tears escape my eyelids. They notice this, and they start smacking and pounding on my face more. At one point, Mark tangles his rough hands around my throat, and leaves Michael to unleash all wrath upon my face. Mark wraps his fingers harder, choking me, leaving me to only breathe and swallow in blood and mucus from my nose. My vision blurs.

Mark finishes me off by backhanding my left cheek, his knuckles grinding against my cheekbones. Michael ends his beat-down by kicking me in between my eyes with his heel. The sound of bone crunching and snapping fills my ears. I never felt this close to the brink of death. Every second that passes increases the pain spreading all over my face and body. Even the movement of wind amplifies the agony.

My eyes fall down on the floor. An entire puddle of my own black and red blood surrounds me.

For once, Danny exposes his feelings. A haunting smile curls up his thick lips. He squats down, collects some blood with the tip of his fingers, and licks them with satisfaction. “It tastes nice and warm. Hmm.”

Danny creeps over my worn out body, my skin tingling with pain at every moment. He reaches for my hair again, and pulls me up from my scalp.

Danny, with the other hand not gripping my hair, inches the blade towards my face.

“Smile for the camera,” I hear Kelvin say. “Oh wait, that’s right. Your mouth is taped shut.”

“Well, I guess we’re going to have to carve a smile on your throat.”