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‘Now it’s only fair to warn you it’s a hell of a mess in there,’ Pablo said. ‘We tore up her insides pretty bad.’
Bennett’s skin crawled at the thought, but he hid his disgust well. ‘Lucky I got a strong stomach then, eh, Pablo?’
Pablo beamed and slapped him on the back.
Touch me again and I’ll snap your fucking arm clean off, Bennett thought.
‘Hose and brushes are there,’ Pablo said. ‘When you’re done come and let me know which key you want.’
Bennett winked at him.
Die, you piece of shit, he thought, smiling intently.
Pablo’s warning had been wise, Bennett thought when he opened the van.
A blonde girl laid there, flies buzzing around her.
She was a mass of pale flesh broken up by bloody welts and bruises.
Between her legs was a thick puddle of blood and semen, congealed into the mattress beneath her.
The look of misery on her face enraged Bennett.
She had a black eye and a seemingly broken jaw.
Blood was clotted around her nose and upper lip.
Dried semen flakes were scattered across her face and tits and hair.
‘Fuck me,’ Bennett said aloud, unable to even comprehend the level of suffering this poor woman had endured.
He shook his head, tears filling his eyes.
Bennett bent down, closed the woman’s eyes, stroked her hair and her cheek, trying to impart some comfort, though it was, of course, much too late.
While he did this, he heard a cough from behind him.
‘I can close the door if you like,’ Pablo said.
Bennett furrowed his brow. ‘Oh no. I wasn’t—’
‘Hey, who the fuck am I to judge?’ Pablo grinned. ‘I had a go on her afterwards, just to see what the score was. Just like going to bed with my ex.’
Bennett laughed in spite of himself.
‘I forgot the key for the chains,’ Pablo said, throwing the key to Bennett. ‘Well, have fun,’ he beamed, winking at Bennett and shutting the door slightly.
The thought of what Pablo was suggesting hit Bennett like a sledgehammer to the gut.
The lovingly-made meal he’d eaten before setting out here came rocketing up his throat.
Out of respect, he made sure he missed the dead girl.
When he’d recovered, he unfastened the huge padlocks – there was no way in hell anyone was escaping those without the key – and began to pull the chains loose.
Without the chains the girl came free pretty easily.
He was used to carrying bodies, but still, she was a dead weight.
A slimy mass slid down his back and he grimaced at the thought of what it was.
Her plight saddened him beyond belief.
He carefully laid her on the ground by the side of the garage.
‘You’re out of it now, sweetheart,’ he said, once more stroking her hair and cheek.
He dragged the mattress out of the back of the van.
‘Just burn that,’ Pablo shouted over, giving Bennett a thumbs up. His head bobbed along to the song on the radio. ‘The fucking mattress too.’
Reluctantly, Bennett hurled the girl’s body onto the fire.
In spite of his disgust at the way she had been treated, Bennett was glad Pablo didn’t want him to clean the mattress.
He felt like he needed to peel the skin from his hands after merely touching it.
And bleaching his eyes after looking at it.
He dragged the mattress over to the fire and set it away.
‘We lost a good one,’ Pablo said, staring mournfully into the flames.
‘She a good lay?’
‘I was talking bout the fucking mattress,’ Pablo hooted, slapping Bennett’s arm.
Bennett almost turned and planted him one there and then, but he pushed the impulse down at the last minute.
The other men round the fire were watching, hands resting on the shotguns across their laps.
Bennett faked laughter, then went back and hosed the van out.
The slurry of blood and dirt and other stuff he didn’t want to even contemplate trickled out into the dirty grey ash beneath the van.
After putting in a new mattress and one of those yellow smiley face car air fresheners – he was stunned by the inappropriateness of this last act – Bennett went back to Pablo.
‘Say, I reckon you did a good job,’ Pablo said, looking over the van.
He took a swig of beer, offered Bennett a bottle of Becks.
Bennett took it with a forced thank you.
‘All part of the service,’ Pablo chuckled. ‘So, you decided?’
‘I think I’ll take your advice and go with the first van, the red head.’
‘Hoo! Good choice, my man,’ Pablo whacked Bennett on the arm again. He turned to his buddies by the fire and shouted, ‘He’s gone for Red.’
The other men laughed and hooted and raised their beers in salute.
‘Well, don’t just stand there, you’re on the clock now,’ Pablo said.
Bennett moved over to the van.
Pablo unlocked it for him.
‘You got twenty-nine and a quarter minutes,’ Pablo said. ‘Have at her.’
The door closed behind Bennett, leaving him in the semi-darkness of the van.
He could barely see in the gloom, but his eyes soon adjusted.
The girl was sleeping, clearly accustomed to the nightmare she now called life.
She stirred slightly when he took a step towards her.
The van’s suspension creaked a little as he moved in further.
The fuck do I do? He thought.
Usually he was a quick thinker, but his current situation had him so disgusted that he found it hard to think straight.
The thought of doing what he was supposed to be doing occurred to him but almost made him sick again.
He was no rapist.
He may have done other atrocious things, but he was not a fucking rapist.
The girl’s eyes flicked open now and the horror on her face brought it home to him how grim her time in here must have been.
‘No,’ she sobbed, attempting to lift hands that were held firmly in place by the chains. ‘Please… Not again.’
Bennett took a step forward, hands raised, in an attempt to calm her.
She recoiled as much as possible, the chains clinking against their holding rings.
‘It’s ok,’ he said, leaning in close. ‘I don’t want to hurt you.’
The confusion on her face was impossible to miss.
Why would one man among the dozens of sick bastards who had been in here not wish harm on her?
‘Just do whatever you’re going to do,’ she sighed, resigned. ‘There’s no point in fighting any more.’
Her resignation saddened Bennett.
‘If you were a decent man you’d put me out of my misery,’ she said.
‘Do you mean that? Do you really want to die?’
‘Better that than go through this every day for the rest of my life,’ she said.
‘Close your eyes. Wait a few minutes.’
She looked up at him, confused, as he began to bounce up and down on the van, rocking the suspension hard.
He heard cheers and roars of laughter from the men by the fire outside.
‘WOOOOO! If the van’s a-rocking don’t come a-knocking,’ Pablo bellowed.
Bennett heard the clink of beer bottles then more laughter.
A couple of hands beat on the sides of the van.
‘Give her one for me too, man,’ someone yelled.
The words hit the girl like punches.
She visibly recoiled with every one.
Bennett could see why.
It was horrible in here.
‘One more minute,’ Bennett said, bouncing with renewed vigour.
The whooping grew in volume.
‘Really fucking going for it now,’ Pablo laughed. ‘You hit that. You fucking hit it, man.’
Bennett counted to a hundred, then knelt between the girl’s legs.
‘Are you sure you want to die?’ he said, looking her square in the eye.
She met his gaze and he saw nothing in her eyes; only sorrow and agony and terror dwelled there.
Then she nodded.
‘Close your eyes.’
She closed them, slowly.
‘I’ll make it quick, I swear.’
Her hands shook he noticed, in spite of the relief he would be giving her.
He took in a deep breath.
First one I’ve killed for the right reasons, he thought, pulling his knife.
He took a deep breath, raised it high.
Then he slammed it into the side of her throat.
Blood hit him in the face like a hot shower.
‘It’s ok. It’s ok,’ he said as she gagged on her own blood and convulsed beneath him.
He stroked her hair, trying to give scant comfort in a life devoid of it.
He pulled his trousers round his ankles so it looked like he’d been on the job.
‘Shit,’ he shouted, stumbling away.
He shoved the van door open, taking care to make it look like he was in an utter panic.
He landed in the dirt, shouting, ‘Help, something’s gone wrong.’
The men from the fire ran over, guns in hand.
‘What the fuck happened?’ Pablo said. His face had gone all blotchy and red.
‘I was on top, banging away,’ Bennett said. ‘Sneaky bitch must have got her foot on my knife and got it up to her hand.’
‘Didn’t you fucking notice?’ one of the men shouted, about to punch Bennett.
‘No, I was too caught up in the moment.’
‘He’s right, man,’ Pablo said. ‘World could be coming down round my fucking ears and I’d not notice if I was in there with her.’
One of the other men went to say something, but Bennett cut him short.
‘She’s dying in there unless someone saves her.’
‘My fucking favourite,’ Pablo said, diving in first.
He’d been the one he wanted.
One of the other men went in after him.
The third man hung back.
Bennett got his pants up and moved up as if to offer advice.
He checked there was no one else watching, then slugged the third man just behind the ear.
He went down quicker than a five dollar hooker.
Bennett shoved the door shut, locked it and snapped the key off in the lock.
Grinning, he dragged the unconscious man away with him.
Bennett found one of the discarded shopping trolleys – stained with charcoal and meat juice; the idiots must have been using it as a barbecue grill – and threw the man into it.
After a quick look around to make sure no one else was pursuing him – they all seemed to be crowding around trying to unlock the van to help with the girl he’d mercy-killed – he ran over to where Monique hid.
They moved through the streets as quietly as possible, listening to the angry cries from the garage fade into the distance.
‘Do you agree that they’re bad men now?’ Bennett said as they arrived home.
‘I just wish I’d got that fuck in the bandanna,’ Bennett said.
‘Me too. What they were doing there is just…’
Bennett threw an arm around her shoulder and hugged her in tight.
‘I know. It doesn’t bear thinking about.’
‘I’m pretty sure I can kill this guy without any remorse,’ Monique smiled.
Next chapter is here