"Eddie." Clayton's voice was low and sharp. His nose and pointed chin pierced the darkness, the only parts of him Eddie could see in the light coming in from the window. "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie." Something leapt into the air, spun around, and fell with a plop into Clayton's other hand. The knife had caught a glimmer of moonlight over the course of its arch from one hand to the other. Just a sliver. But enough to send beads of sweat streaming down Eddie's back, and for a tightness to enter his throat.
Ropes burned against his wrist. He struggled without trying to show it, but Clayton's men had tied them so that even the slightest of movements drew them tighter around him. Panic set in and Eddie shifted in his seat. The section around his neck tightened and he wondered if he continued to struggle would it bite into his throat and kill before Clayton had the chance to put his instrument to work. Nausea washed over him at the thought. But he didn't let it go. He couldn't. Not now. If it came down to self-asphyxiation or what Clayton had in mind, he knew which way he'd rather go.
A low rumble like dice against concrete played in Clayton's throat. His idea of a laugh. His fingers reached out, penetrating the curtain between light and dark, and plucked the rope around Eddie's neck, tugging it slightly toward him before letting it go and forcing Eddie back. "It's nice work, no?" Clayton's face moved to the side in a gesture of respect to the men beside him. "Makes life easy, eh? Though," he sucked his teeth, "a little too easy, maybe. I dunno." The knife appeared again, this time just below Eddie's chin. He hadn't seen it appear until it was inches from the rope. Clayton pressed the point of it into the coarse hairs until Eddie could feel pressure against his throat. "I do like it a little more wild."
Eddie tried swallowing, but the rope and the pressure from the knife made it impossible. Again he flexed his fingers. Maybe the sweat that was now freely streaming down his body could be used as a lubricant and he could slip free. It was a foolish thought, he knew, but men with knives to their throats could be forgiven for having one or two of those.
Clayton adjusted his stance and lowered himself down until he was face to face with Eddie. Shadows washed away from his face. In the moonlight, his pale skin took on a porcelain quality, almost shining. His lips parts at one corner, revealing a sliver of gray-white teeth. The knife was dancing now, twisting from side to side as he worked it into the rope. Whether he was willing it into Eddie's throat or hoping it would sever the band and give him the struggle he desired, Eddie didn't know.
But as they stared at each other in silence, Clayton working the knife in small, circular motions, a rush of adrenaline came over Eddie. The kind that only visits in life or death scenarios. Only, instead of lifting a car or snapping his bonds, he straightened his back and leaned forward.
Surprise. It washed over Clayton's face like a cloud, then, once passed, was replaced by something closer to satisfaction. A challenge had been offered and the atavistic part of his mind not only accepted it, but reveled in the prospect. He'd get color the hard way tonight. The only way that mattered, as far as he was concerned.
"Clay." One of the other two men stepped forward. Out of the corner of his eye, Eddie could see the outline of a tall, thick bodied man. A linebacker type. His white pant leg and black crept into the light, but the rest stayed wreathed in shadow. The outline of his hat the only article of clothing of note.
"Shut up." Clayton didn't take his eyes off Eddie. Sweat moistened his alabaster skin and his teeth, once smiling, were grinding against each other in a rictus grin. "I've got this."
Eddie swallowed again and this time he found he could get it down. His hands were slick with sweat. he worked them in earnest now, no longer worrying about who saw. If he was going to die he'd do it struggling. To hell with somber pride and stolid dignity. This was his life! Thirty-eight and still plenty of it left. With renewed vigor he pushed himself forward. Over the drumming in his ears he thought he earned the ropes whine. Whether it was his imagination or not, he used it as a sign. His bonds urging him on. Daring him to keep going. To push through fear and pain.
The grin left Clayton's face and his eyes narrowed on the rope hugging tight to Eddie's throat. His teeth chewed his bottom lip, working a sliver of translucent skin and the knife continued digging into the brown fibers. Like a man working a corpse, searching desperately for answers, his focus zeroed in on the hunt.
He didn't respond.
Eddie's eyes burned into his captor. Closer now, he could see him clearly. A big-brimmed white hat with a black band. It almost looked comical on the thin man. Had Eddie seen him at a circus he would've mistaken him for a well-dressed carnie, conning kids out of their quarters.
Another whine. A snap. Eddie could feel the knife breaking through. Was that the point of it pinching his adam's apple? Was there anything between his jugular and cold steel? Another swallow. If he was bleeding he couldn't tell. Sweat poured down his body in streams.
Outside, car horns blared. Buses rumbled up and down 8th Avenue. A city shifted from dinner to afterhours.
The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:
Begin Start typing to begin
Location A hotel
Words Reach 50 words
Words Reach 100 words
Letter Use the letter V
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words
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