And so the training began.
The brothers were separated and held in what could best be described as locker size cages or mini-closets, often times with exposure to small creatures that would bite them but they were never seen to be fought back against. Tortures as these began to detach their minds from reality, which was exactly what these beasts were wanting to achieve.
There were daily battles between certain children to the death, sometimes in front of an audience and more often in the pitch black, just the two opponents or so it felt. And what may have been the worst was the times they were chained and told the repeat such self-deprecating phrases as “I am nothing. I am all alone”. If they stopped, even for a second, they were beaten severely. Open wounds and swollen eyes were a mainstay.
Always on high alert and without sleep became their way of life. The beasts would continuously taunt them. “We will have your families killed, every last member. We know where you live. There are being watched right now.”
At one point, after stabbing and gutting a boy twice his size, Beau sobbed, “What do you want from us?”
The demon closest to him knelt down in front of Beau, wiping the blood from his cheeks as though he were his doting, loving father. “Everything.”
Later that night, Beau reached a point in his mind where he felt capable of anything and he focused that current euphoria on getting the hell out of there. He kicked the cage door with all of his might, and he ended up sprawled out on the floor, free. Whether the lock was busted or it wasn’t locked to begin with, he was out. Immediately, he called out for Austin but no response. Seeing that Beau was free, other incarcerated kids yelled out for help and for freedom but he could not save everyone so he crept quietly out of the room, amidst the borderline screams from the rest of the caged children. If only they would try and help themselves, though this thought never would inhabit their boxed-in minds.
He opened the door of the next room and discovered more cages, these ones stacked on top of each other in 2 rows. Beau called out “Austin? Toby?’ A voice called out, “There’s no one here with those names.”
“Shut up. I’m here, Beau. Here.” Austin was able to stick a few fingers out of a cage on the second row. Beau ran over to him and pull his cage open. Austin looked at him in shock. “Was it open the whole time??”
Beau put his finger to his lips then helped Austin step down. “Is Toby here?”
Austin’s face dropped as he looked down. “I’ve been told that he’s dead. And I haven’t seen him since we got here.”
The brothers looked at each other. Beau confessed “Well we gotta look for him. We can’t leave him behind.”
As they stepped into the dark hallway, the sound of snarling demon dogs could be heard and the boys bolted as fast as they could. Without looking back, the vicious and thunderous growling was almost at their heels. They rounded a corner and at the end of the hall, a portal became visible.
With seconds away from sweet victory filling them with adrenaline, both mini-beasts lunged at Austin’s legs. The dogs sunk their razor sharp fangs into his hamstrings, immediately dragging Austin to the ground. His screams were like icy daggers all through Beau but he knew if he turned around or stopped, it would be his end as well.
Just as he reached the end of the hall, one of the beasts, a bejeweled and almost feminine in appearance stood beside the portal. For a second, Beau stared into her eyeless face, bracing to fight his way through her had she stepped in his way. But she did not. She remained stoic, without movement and without word, as though allowing Beau to escape.
And with that unspoken agreement, he dove headfirst through the portal into the bitter cold lake. The only way was up…