The Return

The final Hint Fiction piece for 2014 – this is a continuation of my story with Samuel, from Matthew’s viewpoint.

**

Matthew came back to himself with a soft moan. His body ached from the attacks he’d suffered at the hands of his captors. That wasn’t the worst of it, however. He only realized the worst when he sat up and took stock of his surroundings. He knew immediately where he was. He’d been there before after all. He’d lost track of the number of times he’d been tortured this way.

It was pitch black and he could hardly move. He shifted one way and then the other, but the confines of the space were such that he couldn’t do more than shift his body a bit. He could hear voices from above him, but he couldn’t make out the what they were saying. He went still and then raised his hands to pound on the surface above his face. “No, please,” he said, his voice cracking. “Not this – not again. Let me out!”

His plea was met with laughter from outside and somewhere above him. A moment later, he heard the rumble of soil falling against the surface he was pressing his hands against. He felt the vibrations as they buried him deep… again.

Fighting the rising panic, Matthew took a steadying breath. He squeezed his eyes closed and felt hot moisture trickle down his cheeks. “Let me out,” he cried, over the sound of the dirt falling on the casket. “Please! I’ll do anything!”

The sounds stopped and there was a scraping sound – a shovel against the wood of the casket. Then there were two terrible thumps and a crash as the shovel broke through the wood. Matthew coughed as soil fell onto his face. As he blinked away fresh tears – from getting dirt in his eyes, this time – the face of one of his captors came into view.

“Thaddeus,” he breathed. The man he and Samuel had once called their friend – the same man who had betrayed Samuel’s parents – knew his worst fear. “Please, let me out of here.”

A sunny smile touched the man’s smooth even features. When they’d been in school, those boyish features had made the girls go crazy for him. No one every imagined how ugly he was in his heart. “Matthew,” he said, as he reached down the brush some dirt from his face. “You’ll do… anything? Really? Will you?”

Matthew bit his lip. Whatever he said, he knew he wouldn’t like the consequences. However, he knew that he couldn’t agree to whatever Thaddeus had in mind. There was more than just himself to consider, after all. “Thaddeus,” he breathed, “I – I won’t hurt anyone.”

Thaddeus moved to stand. “I guess that you wouldn’t do… anything, then,” he said. He raised his wand and smiled. “Just let me repair this box and we’ll carry on, shall we?” He glanced at someone outside of Matthew’s line of sight. “Shall we wager on how long he takes to die?”

At those words, Matthew’s resolve failed. “No, please,” he said, shaking his head. Thaddeus looked down at him and he nodded. “I – I’ll do whatever you say, Thaddeus, just get me out of here. Please!”

“Thought you’d see things my way,” Thaddeus said, smiling. He waved his wand and the lid of the casket shattered. Dust and debris scattered into the air.

Matthew squeezed his eyes shut, ducking his head. As the dust cleared, he felt strong hands grabbing his arms. Then, he was being hauled upward and out of the makeshift grave. He struggled as they carried him away from the pit, but crumpled when the hands released him.

When he lifted his head, Thaddeus was crouching beside him. “It’s simple, really,” he said, his voice faint. “Just tell me where Samuel is hiding and you won’t have to go back into the horrible box.”

Bowing his head, Matthew nodded. “He’s in the lakelands,” he said, his voice faint. “J-Joshua’s pack finally caught up to him.” He shivered when Thaddeus smoothed a hand through his hair.

“See,” his former friend murmured, “that wasn’t so very difficult. Was it now?” He stood, catching Matthew smoothly by one wrist. With hardly a glance at his attendants, he said, “Contact the Moreland Pack. They’ve got the one we’re after.” Then, he was dragging Matthew out of the room.

Matthew released a shuddering breath and shook his head. “What – what are you going to do with me?” he breathed, his voice faint.

Thaddeus stifled a laugh. “I’d think you would be more concerned with the lovely Samuel,” he said, giving Matthew a wry smile.

Matthew ducked his head to hide his expression. If Thaddeus saw it, he’d know the truth. He wasn’t especially worried about them capturing Samuel, actually. If his lover could survive a coup against the current alpha of the pack, he’d have an entire pack to protect him from Thaddeus and his people. If he didn’t survive the coup, he wouldn’t be there for Thaddeus to get his hands on. Either way, Samuel was far less his concern at the moment.

His mouth was dry as Thaddeus dragged him down a flight of stairs that seemed to go on forever. He wasn’t going to be buried alive, but that didn’t mean that he was going to escape the torture of being underneath the ground. In moments, he was being dragged into a dark, dank dungeon. He whimpered as Thaddeus chained his wrists to the wall of one cell.

Then, Thaddeus was turning to leave. He paused in the doorway. “Not to worry, Matthew,” he said, his eyes twinkling with malice. “You won’t be alone for long.”

Matthew shivered and released a deep sigh. He looked up towards the ceiling. Far, far above him, a shaft of light was visible. It didn’t reach him. There was no way that it ever would. However, it seemed like a lifeline to him. As dark as it was in his cell, there was light. He was buried and forgotten. “I’ll survive,” he rasped. Squeezing his eyes closed, he said, “So will Samuel. We’ll see each other again.”

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