Moon Island (Chapter Fifty-three)

"Lucky for you, Samantha Moon, that I need to keep you alive. You are, after all, graciously hosting my sister."

I braced myself against the polished wall, even while blood from my chest continued pouring free.

"This may sound, ah, rather ghoulish, my dear, but all that precious blood of yours will not go to waste. I will have one of my – for want of a better word – Thurman minions gather it up carefully for me later. Waste not, want not." He laughed.

The pumping blood quickly slowed to a dribble. I could literally feel the wound closing underneath my palm.

I gasped and stood straight.

He pointed to the disc-shape bulge in my front pocket. "It would be so much easier, Samantha, if you would just give me medallion number two."

"Fuck you."

"For some reason, I thought you would say that." He cocked his head to one side.

"Forgive me, sssister," he said, the word hissing from between his lips. "For what I am about to do."

He leaped forward so fast that I had only enough time to turn my head. Still, the blow sent me spinning, and rocked me unlike anything I'd felt before.

And it had only been a partial blow.

I searched for the wall, couldn't find it, stumbled and fell.

He ran up to me, and in one smooth and horrible motion, kicked me full-force in the ribs, hard enough to lift me off the ground and hurl me deeper into the hallway, where I tumbled two or three more times.

I tried to gasp, but couldn't. Shards of rib bone had punctured my lungs. I was bleeding internally, and badly.

"My sister and I have decided that, perhaps, it would be best to keep you down here with me, Sammie. Oh, does it surprise you that I am still in communication with my sister? Oh, it's easy enough. She's accessible to me through your dream state. So, yes, we have prepared a special place for you down here, beneath my family's mausoleum.

With the dead."

He came up to me and, if possible, kicked me even harder, a blow that sent me crashing into the far wall and succeeded, I was certain, in breaking all of my remaining ribs. Blood poured from my mouth, from internal injuries that no one had any right to survive from.

I couldn't think. I couldn't comprehend. I didn't know, entirely, what was happening anymore. The pain was so intense – and happening faster than my own body could repair itself.

"But you have proven to be particularly worrisome, Samantha Moon."

I tried absently to push him away but I was certain that my arm was broken as well. He grabbed me by my bloodied jacket and lifted me up to my feet.

"Let me explain the source of my worry," he said, and then threw me against the nearby hallway wall. My head hit hard enough for me to have briefly passed out.

Just briefly. Already, I could feel him lifting me up again.

"I haven't quite figured out why you, of all people, seem stronger than all the others. Yes, my sister within is a particularly evolved dark master, but that doesn't explain it, either. Do you see my dilemma?"

He backhanded me so hard that I was certain my jaw broke.

"You seem to have developed talents that far outweigh the others. Why, Sam? Why?"

He dropped me to the ground, where I slumped into a bloody and broken heap.

"Yes, we need to keep you here where I can keep an eye on you, while we fetch your son. Or, as I refer to him, medallion number three."

He turned and faced me.

My thoughts were scattered, incoherent, shattered. I might have been having a form of a seizure. I couldn't think. I couldn't function. I could barely see.

And as he began walking toward me, to deliver a blow that I knew would either kill me or render me completely useless, something appeared in my thoughts.

A single flame.