Stef shifted her head slightly, slowly; trying to angle it so that not all of her face was in contact with her own piss-soaked pants.

She could hear someone walking around – it wasn’t Curt, the footsteps were too heavy. For all the new clothes they’d given him, they didn’t seem to have been able to find new shoes – as evidenced by the times he’d kicked her, so his shoes were still the standard narcy leather shoes.
Whoever was clomping around her head was wearing something a lot more like combat boots. Probably the Solstice that had been in the room with him, the one that smiled when he insulted her.
Her chest was still exposed, and he hadn’t been careful when pulling off her dress pants, so at least part of her butt was exposed.
As exposed as the scandalous pictures in the paper had made her feel, at least she’d still been wearing some clothes, and her face had been blurred. There’d been a disassociation between her and her naked body.
Here, there was no such grace.
Exposed. Vulnerable. Humiliated.
And it could get worse.
There were no tears left to cry. She wanted to pray, but there was no one listening.
Alan Turing, hallowed be thy name-
There was a squeak of boots against concrete as the wandering Solstice knelt behind her. Panic flared as he pulled at what was remaining of her uniform shirt, lifting it up to expose her back.
A hand rested on her exposed hip.
It would be so easy for the man to roll her onto her back and-
Please, please no.
Two long seconds ticked by, and then there was a sharp, hot pain – he’d put out his cigarette on her back.
She choked on a sob of relief.
Compared to the blow torch that had blackened her feet, the minor burn barely registered.
‘I think next,’ the Solstice said, ‘I’d like to see him fuck you with a knife.’
I can’t do this anymore. I’m- I’m not being brave, but I just can’t- I want it to be over, cause I can’t-
There was the sound of soles against concrete as he retreated, and she was left with her thoughts, and the smell of her own waste.
Her life was bleeding out onto the floor and into the hollow spaces inside. Outlook not so good.
And there were far worse things than death.
There were tears again, and they felt good.
There was silence, and minutes ticked away.
There was the sound of Agency-issued shoes, and she felt a strange sense of relief – whatever his endgame, he couldn’t draw it out too much longer – her blood would be black and ashing soon enough.
Curt removed the pants, knocking a couple of scabbing wounds open again. ‘I’m going to give you the chance to repent before you die,’ he said, brandishing yet another knife at her. ‘To cleanse your soul before you die.’
‘B-b-b-b-’ she stammered, her mouth unable to form words.
He grabbed her shoulders and pulled her up – whatever came next, she was grateful for at least some of her body to be away from the concrete floor. ‘Bu-bu-but I didn’t move an inch…’
‘That doesn’t matter now. Your time is up. You’ve got one last chance to repent, be glad that I’m giving you that.’
‘You really are a troublesome bitch. Let me ask you one question: do you think today is a good day to die?’
It was a code. It was-
He had a plan, he had some kind of-
The knife plunged into her chest. She felt it slide in between two ribs and bury itself into her lung. Under his grip, she squirmed, spitting blood onto his face – which only earned her another slap.
She screamed, and knew it was going to be her last.
You weren’t right! You weren’t right! I hate you!
He let go of her the knife, braced one hand against her back, and grabbed a handful of her hair with the other.
‘You refused repentance,’ he said leaning closer, ‘no one will have mercy on your soul.’ He leaned closer still, and whispered a word that refused to parse in her mind, but her body froze.
He stood, and let her drop backwards – nothing was moving. Her fingers weren’t twitching, her chest wasn’t moving, despite the feel of shallow breaths against her tongue. She was paralysed, but still bleeding.
Curt stood and looked down at her. ‘Amen.’ He wiped his hands on his shirt. ‘I need a fucking drink,’ Curt said. ‘Then I’ll get to work on the agent.’
‘What about the body?’
I’m not a body! I’m not dead!
‘I’ll wait till rigor sets in, then I’ll cut it up and courier it back to her Agency.’
There was the sound of a door slamming, and then she was alone.
Is this…death?
Still kinda feels like life, Spyder.
What the hell did he do?
I think he used magic on you.
He could have done it earlier, yanno, before he cut my fucking eye out.
Her right big toe twitched.
See? Not dead.
Her eye opened a little, and her HUD reappeared, a countdown taking up most of her vision.
Well, not yet anyway.
She stared at the countdown, 4:57, 4:56, 4:55, blue digital numbers ticking away the seconds she had left to live.
She tried to move her hand, but it stayed immobile, useless.
4:41, 4:40, 4:39.
Ok, I’m paralysed, and I need to cut into my chest and wish myself well before the countdown runs out.
Spyder, you’re dying of blood loss, you have to cut into it well before it hits zero. You’re losing blood, and you need to be conscious enough to do this.
I feel fine so far. Well, considering.
Try to move.
She managed to open her eye a little more, but nothing else moved.
4:27, 4:26, 4:25.
What if they come back? To like move me somewhere?
Well, then we’re all dead. They’ll slit out throat, they’ll execute Curt for tricking them, and Grigori’s doomed.
Two of the toes on her left foot twitched, then retained feeling – one retained the feeling of being broken with a hammer, but it was feeling all the same.
3:59, 3:58, 3:57…
I’ve got part of a foot, can I perform surgery with part of a foot?
Maybe if you’d kept up with ballet, but even then, I don’t think Madame Cousteau would have taught us to wield knives with our feet. Would have messed up the shoes, don’t you think?
3:20, 3:19, 3:18…
She could feel her right knee, more precisely, she could feel the deep cut there, and the open wounds from the burns, but it was feeling.
2:45, 2:44, 2:43…
Is it what you expected?
First week of being an agent.
Dunno, dunno if I expected anything. I…
Damn you, stay awake!
I’m not going to sleep, I’m not going to sleep, I’m just…
Pain exploded in her middle, and she managed a minor vocalisation of the pain.
There you are.
1:57, 1:56, 1:55…
Those numbers keep getting smaller.
She tried to move her hands again, and this time, there was faint feeling in her fingers.
Work with it, Spyder, work with it!
She concentrated on moving her right index finger, and slowly felt it respond. She tapped it, but none of the other fingers moved yet.
1:28, 1:27, 1:26…
Her right hand flexed, and froze, before relinquishing control to her. Her arm still dead, she turned her hand and grasped for her pants leg, pulling her dead arm along with it.
Huh, maybe watching Evil Dead was a valuable use of your time.
By the time she had pulled her hand up to her chest, feeling was beginning to return to her arm.
Shop smart, shop Stef-mart!
1:03, 1:02, 1:01…
She let her hand slide a little, and reached for the knife handle.
No time to be clean or pretty about this.
0:57, 0:56, 0:55…
She yanked the knife out, and felt her breath exhale as a scream.
She gripped the wet handle and pushed it through the place where her breastbone should have been, scrapped it against her heart, and pulled it back out. She pressed her fingers against the tiny pieces of mirror on the end of the knife.
Heal me, please.