The Devil’s Den
by V. Palma-Ramey
Alabama 3 – Woke Up This Morning
The phone rang in their sparsely furnished communications room. He picked it up. After a few passing moments, the brawny redhead in the navy blue suit set the receiver to his chest. “Hey brother, boss man wants me to interrupt her interrogation.”
Stew looked at him from across the room, his feet propped up on the chipped ledge of the one way glass. He turned his head in Tim’s direction, his green eyes meeting the pudgy man’s concerned expression. He raised an eyebrow and pointed to the action playing out in the adjoining room; moans of displeasure – rather, screams of terror – projecting against the thickened glass like the bleating of an animal being slaughtered.
“Hey man, if you have the brass ones to stop her right now then go for it, but boss man is not my concern. I’m more afraid of that terrorizing demon on the other side of the glass.” Stew returned his attention to the unfortunate death spiral peaking in the adjacent room.
As if on cue, fresh screams shattered through the imprisoning tomb. Tim looked one last time at the sight behind the mirror as he removed the receiver from his chest. He cleared his throat; the mucus thickening at the repugnant torment as he brought the phone to his ear.
“Yeah. Hey there. She’s indisposed right now, and I don’t think she would hear me if I plugged the intercom.” He paused, the voice on the other end rattling off instructions. “Well – okay. Hold on.” He paused, inhaling the stale air that clung to him like gym sweat before he mustered the courage to hit “intercom” as he replaced the handset on the boxed receiver. “Go ahead, boss.” Enthusiasm was not in his voice.
“Patch me in.” The giant’s command was simple.
Stew, shaking his head, mouthed in wordless silence to his partner that he wasn’t going to interrupt her. Tim sighed, and flipped Stew off as he clicked the two-way lever, patching the call into the Devil’s Den.
When the patch completed, both rooms were now connected and the handlers heard both sides of hell. Her voice was cold as it flowed through the speakers.
“I told you that I don’t have time for pleas. Your time for begging ended when I found out you were playing both sides. You think I care about your kids, your wife? I don’t give two fucks about your family. You jeopardized my family. You put us at risk -and for what? Fifty grand, really? You’re a piece of shit.” Her face was inches from the piteous, worked-over flesh that barely resembled a man. She didn’t growl, she didn’t hiss, but the undeniable detachment in her mannerisms when she was in the zone could chill Lucifer himself.
Tim cleared his throat over the intercom, “Sadie, we have an issue.” He stammered her name, his shaky voice faltering.
She hesitated for one heart beat before she continued her assault; the thrill of torture, fresh on her tongue. It was like tasting food for the first time after you’ve been stranded alone for months, surviving on prayers and berries.
She picked up the long stainless steel pin from the cloth covered side table and without mercy, drove it into the traitor’s leg, grinning and maintaining eye contact as his pain registered. The agony echoed off the cement walls. It heightened her excitement, an enigmatic placated grin spread across her pale skin.
“This better be a big problem. I’m fucking in the middle of something. I hate when I lose my concentration. It deadens the pleasure I derive in these transactions. It is one of the few rewards I can physically taste in my line of work.” She cocked her head to the side, admiring the silent pleas of her handiwork. She looked upon him with an ambiguous pity. It was useless. He signed his death certificate the moment money was discovered in the offshore account.
“I have something a little more tempting; so hurry up, and don’t play with your prey.” A familiar voice projected through the small room. She heard the sound of him tapping a pen on his desk to a melodic tune only he knew. It echoed annoyingly through the intercom. “I’ll wait for you to finish,” his deep voice offered. “It’s been awhile since I had my own hands dirtied.”
Her sadistic side kicked into overdrive. “I’d say you gave up dirtying your hands when you recruited me. Either way, enjoy the temptations you’re missing.” She circled back to the dark-haired misery bound to the heavy metal chair, his whimpering a testament to the depth of his recoil from pain. “Tell me something, Drex, was it worth it?”
He opened his mouth to speak, but no words escaped. She’d already cut his tongue off. The pale organ lay on the table, just within his view.
She meandered closer, the heat of his fear a powerful aphrodisiac. “I’m going to whisper in your ear, and when I’m done, you’ll beg for the pleasure of death. I’m really the stuff nightmares are made of.” She knew as she closed the gap, standing beside him, bending to his ear, that the room wouldn’t pick up her hushed conversation. She cupped her hand over his ear and whispered, as delight coursed over her like a wave to sand. He shivered. Sadie didn’t know if it was related to the statement she made or from the heat of her breath as it connected with the sensitive skin of his neck. Either way, she rejoiced.
“I told you not to mess with the mafia. They bite back, and I even harder. You betray one, you betray all. But tell me, as it was already promised. Remember your first born? I’ll allow you a choice. Nod once if you want me to cut out Lindon’s heart and mail it to your wife, Beatrice. Or you can nod twice if you want me to cut out his tongue as a permanent reminder of your betrayal.”
The terror in his eyes was worth ruining her favorite suit. They’d apprehended him as he was attempting to flee the country, and she didn’t have time to change when she was called to the Den. The jacket was saved and could be blended with other suit pants, but the blood on her blouse would never clean out, and the pants were a total mess. At least her heels were washable.
“Oh, judging by the look on your face, dreaded apprehension, I’d say, Drex, that you forgot that detail of the clause, huh? That’s right; most people do. You screw up, forsake the family, and we get your first-born. See what happens when you don’t read the fine print?” Her tone both toying and diabolic as she delivered the fateful options.
She backed up and leaned against the wall, observing him as the remembrance of the clause registered painstakingly slow on his numbed brain. To his credit, she’d had him in the den for a few hours, bled him out some, tormented him to the edge of death, and let him regain consciousness only to restart the process.
She loved the cat and mouse of it all. Some would call it moral depravity, but she liked to call it skill and patience.
“I’ll do you a solid …” her avowal interrupted.
“Sadie, I’m not a patient man,” the voice boomed through the speaker. “Finish up your job or put it on hold.”
She stared at the camera in the corner, flashing him a look of warning. The high-definition camera showed him every ounce of her skill and patience, and as she stared blankly at the red light blinking on the device, she hoped her cool defiance reminded him of why she was worth the fortune he paid for her services.
Boldly, Sadie spoke again to Drex, ignoring the overhead request. She turned her back to the meddling camera, “Here, let me do you a favor – I’ll decide.” She stood before Drex, seductively swaying her hips as she slipped her prized possession from under her tucked, pressed white shirt. She faced him, her shoulders squared and before he had time to comprehend her intention, the curved blade pierced his chest, stopping his heart as the gurgles rushed forward.
His eyes seized her gaze, unfaltering in those final breaths. Sadie watched his draining life, enduring the agonal rhythm and awaiting the last breath precisely before the light was snuffed out forever, but comprehension was astutely present; awareness clinging to a severed strand of existence. She leaned over him and in a hushed tone, divulged her ultimate intention, as he entered that final moment. “I may just feed his heart to my dog and let his mother wonder forever of Lindon’s whereabouts. Sweet Dreams, love.”
Sadie pushed back and wiped her hands on her tweed pants. The lifeless body slick with blood and warmth, now nothing more than a paper weight. She cut her glare once more to the camera and crossed behind the side table and picked up the phone on the wall, ending the open communication with the adjacent room.
“What the hell was so urgent that you rushed me?” she barked.
Stew looked at his partner, a rejuvenated respect for the pacing woman in the room beyond the mirrored glass. “Remind me to stay on the right side of that sadistic bitch.” He shivered and picked up a discarded magazine, averting his eyes from the lifeless body staring back at him from the chair.
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Categories: Short Stories