Last Gasp

He paid little attention to the blood on the floor. It was the eye that drew him closer.
His target’s resilience was starting to fade, signified by the fluttering of his one good eye. That eye wasn’t much better than his right, of course, but it wasn’t swollen shut yet. It could still see enough. It was still trying to see, at least. Except now it fluttered.
“Tell me what I need to know,” he repeated.
More fluttering. The mind trying to focus past the pain to give a response.
It was somewhat entertaining.
“My son is hunting you,” the man shackled to the wall finally said. The words low, but strong. The eye not fluttering, though clearly struggling to take in the reaction. “You will die by his will.”
He laughed. “I should release you and save myself then?”
The eye fluttered again, then closed. The body strained for more air, for anything that could make it not so pathetic, he figured. It was a broken, mangled thing now. Feet contorted to odd angles. Fingers limp or missing. The blood was still dripping from numerous cuts and slashes that it was a wonder there was still more inside calmly escaping. The damage outside would slowly affect the inside and then, the spirit would break and he’d have his answers.
Torture was slow and messy, but he was a practiced expert. And this last gasp, as he usually referred to it, was his favourite part. The final and futile attempt by the body to shield and strengthen the spirit. It would be brief and then, he’d win.
The eye opened again. Strength found.
“You misunderstood me,” his target said. “You killed an innocent we were protecting. It is unforgivable. He is hunting you and nothing you do will save you. Spare me, slice me, leave me, sling me up on a spike for all to see, it won’t save you. Run, hide, put a thousand men in his way, it won’t save you.”
“I’m not worried–”
His target continued. The eye’s gaze unfaltering. “You can do anything with me and it won’t save you. Nothing will save you, anymore than anything will save me. Because he isn’t trying to find me. No one is trying to save me. He is hunting you. And he will use all our resources and our fortunes to hunt you down and have you slaughtered.”
The swallow was involuntary and he regretted it. He knew his target saw. He knew the moment that eye caught his subtle sign of fear. That simple reflex upon realizing how badly he’d miscalculated his plan. The son was supposed to want to save the father and then be distracted by grief.
The eye had seen that realization. It was clear again. Focused on him. The prisoner’s mouth twitched ever so slightly in triumph. Cracked, bloodied, swollen and cut, still that mouth tugged in a corner for an ugly, satisfied smirk.
“That’s all I needed,” said his captive. “Do your worse. You’ll get nothing. You’re still more damned than I, and now you know.”
The eye fluttered again, almost closing.
He took a deep breath, puffed out his chest and stared at the man shackled to the wall. A part of his mind whispering, “your last gasp.”

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