After a silence that had dragged on for all too long, Cathect began to sing, “Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer. You take one down–”
“You are the worst,” I said. “Also, I hate you. Also, why are you like this?”
“All questions you’ve asked me before,” Cathect said. “All questions that I’ve asked myself. Maybe there is nothing new under the Sun.”
“Guys,” Blue said. “We have to figure out a way to get out of here.”
“There is no way out. Don’t you get it?” Cathect said. He let out a bit of a laugh that sounded less humorous and more insane. “Nano had a robot break through the ceiling, and it still wasn’t enough. Nothing’s enough. We’re doomed.”
“We’re not doomed,” Blue said.
“We’re kind of doomed,” I said. “But not entirely doomed. Semi-doomed, at most.”
“What do you mean, semi-doomed?” Cathect snapped. “You either are doomed or you’re not doomed. There’s no semi-doomed. You can’t half-ass eternal dread and suffering.”
“On the one hand,” I said. “I don’t think we’re getting out of this.”
“Thank you,” Cathect said. “By which I mean shit. Wait, I’m glad that I’m right but I don’t–”
“On the other hand,” I said. “We don’t know what Marquez wants with us.”
“You said she said she was going to kill you,” Blue said.
“She said she wasn’t going to tell me why she was doing this because she was just going to kill me soon. But then she told me anyway.”
“So?” Cathect said. “She’s indecisive. She’s going to partially kill me and then debate about finishing the job. Great. Super great. You know what? This sucks. My life sucks. I’m gonna die, and I bet Hell is going to suck.”
“You’re kind of being a Debbie Downer,” I said.
He let out a bit of a smile, which was nice. It looked like I’d pulled him out of the despair he was feeling, if just for a second.
“You just called me a Debbie Downer?”
“Well, you weren’t being a– You weren’t being a– What’s the opposite of a Debbie Downer? Happy person. You weren’t being a happy person,” I said.
“I can’t believe you just called me a Debbie Downer. That’s ridiculous,” Cathect said. “We’re tied to chairs, our lives are in perilous danger–”
“Watch out, or I might have to call you a Negative Nancy,” I said. We both laughed at that one.
“I can’t die,” I said. “I’m too funny to die.”
I looked over at Hellfire, and that knocked the laughter right out of me. He still hadn’t woken up. I wondered if he’d ever wake up. Cathect followed my line of sight and turned around, looking back at Hellfire.
“I don’t think it’s the tranquilizer, anymore,” Cathect said.
“Then what is it?” I asked.
“He could be faking,” Blue said. “Pretending to be knocked out while waiting for the moment to strike.”
“Could be,” Cathect said. “I wonder if he’s astral projecting himself.”
“What do you mean?”
“Astral projection!” Cathect said, exasperated. “You know, when–”
“I know what astral projection is,” I told Cathect. “But why do you think that’s what Hellfire’s doing?”
“I don’t know that he’s doing that,” Cathect said. “It’s just a possibility. It would explain why he was alive, but not really here. I know he– Demons can psychically transfer themselves places. Which is actually what Satan did with the snake… Shit. Hellfire was right about that.”
“Nano,” Blue said.
“Is there anything you could whip up to get us out of here?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, if you built that suit, you must be pretty good at making things,” she said. “We’ve got some rope and some wood chairs. You’ve got a hairpin and I’ve got some gum in my pocket. Can you do anything with that?”
Cathect burst into incredulous laughter. “You want her to MacGuyver this shit? Come on.That’s ridiculous.”
“None of it’s going to help,” I said.
Marquez and her gang had tied us up pretty well after our last escape attempt. Our wrists were tied to the chairs, and the chairs were bolted to the ground. Still, I thought there might be a way. No, screw it. There had to be a way.
I leaned to my right, resting my lips on the ropes surrounding my lips.
“What are you doing?” Blue asked.
“Something stupid,” I said. Then I began to chew through the rope. It was pretty gross, tasting like, well, tasting like how things you shouldn’t eat often taste: not good.
“Oh, motherfucker,” Cathect said.
My teeth were kind of hurting, but I was making headway with the rope. It was loosening up. Breaking apart.
“I would clap,” Cathect said. “Really, I would clap. But you know, my arms are kind of otherwise occupied.”
I took a break from chewing the rope to briefly say,“Yeah, well I wish you’d keep your mouth occupied with a goddamn piece of tape so I could think for a second.” It was a little harsh, but like give me a break.
“I’ve got some gum in my pocket,” Blue said.
“So?” I asked.
“So, do you want to add it to the rope? You know, chew it while you work? Make the rope tastier?”
I knew time was of the essence so I didn’t say anything. And really, I really didn’t have a response to that.
Cathect, on the other hand, had a response that I couldn’t necessarily disagree with. “What the fuck?”
“I’m just brainstorming,” Blue said.
“I know I said there are no wrong ideas when it comes to brainstorming. I know that was me. I know I was the one who said that. However, I was clearly wrong, because that was incredibly stupid.”
“Alright, how about you actually try and help us figure all this out, smart-ass,” Blue said.
“My plan is to accept my fate,” Cathect said. “Despair isn’t so bad, you know.”
The rope was almost off my right hand. Then the door opened.
Before I could get my teeth off my wrist, I heard a voice just go, “Oh.” You know the really awkward sort of ‘oh’ that someone says after they’ve just witnessed something they really didn’t want to.
I looked and saw that it was Jim and Don, now sporting bruised faces.
“Nano’s trying to chew her wrist off because she’s on her period!” Cathect blurted, uttering what I thought was genuinely one of the stupidest–
“We didn’t mean to interrupt,” Don said. “Not that we didn’t not mean to interrupt. I mean, we’re not perverts, we just–”
“Do you need some alone time?” Jim asked. “Because we can– uh. I have laundry. Dry cleaner’s appointment. My dog has a yoga appointment.” Jim trailed off, scratching his head. “Let’s go,” he told Don.
Don nodded his head. “Yeah.”
“Is this what a period looks like?” Jim asked Don, ever so loudly.
“You asked that question very loudly, Jim,” Don whispered even more loudly. “You’re screwing the pooch.”
The two of them moved to leave.
“Wait,” I said. “Don’t go.”
“I don’t want to watch whatever–” Don said.
“I have to pee,” I said.
“Oh, shit,” Jim said. “I didn’t think about that.”
“No, siree. We did not take that into consideration,” Don said.
“Can you hold it in?” Jim asked.
“If she could hold it in, do you think she’d be asking you?” Blue asked.
“This sounds like some sort of trick,” Jim said.
“My bladder is not a trick!” I yelled.
“Can’t you just, you know, hold it in for a while?” Don asked.
“Women’s bladders don’t work like that,” Jim said. “When they gotta go, they gotta go.”
“What happens if they don’t?” Don asked.
I almost screamed back, “We pee our pants like everyone else, you dumbass.”
But instead, I said something I immediately regretted, “Blood. Everywhere.” I mean, it was obvious I was lying, right? I couldn’t make a more obvious lie if I tried.
“Uh oh,” Don said. “That sounds real bad.”
“Yeah, we better not mess with that,” Jim said. He leaned over to untie me, but then he pulled back. “Cover my six, Don,” Jim said.
Don pointed his gun at the front door.
“No, my back,” Jim said. “Cover my back.”
“Right,” Don said, taking his gun and pointing it at Jim’s back.
Jim leaned over and untied my left arm. Then, before he noticed how loose the rope on my right wrist was, I broke it free. I wrapped my arms around his neck and headbutted him.
“Oh, shit!” Jim said. “Don! I need some help here!” He fought me, trying to pull away, but I wasn’t letting go. I wrapped my left arm all the way around his head, so that when Jim went to get his gun, I had a free hand to grab his wrist.
“Uh, Jim. I don’t know what to do, Jim,” Don said.
“Shoot her!” Jim said. “As you and I both know, you can shoot her! Your gun has bullets! And the threat of shooting her should be enough to stop her!”
Don pulled out his gun and pointed it at us. “I’m going to shoot you! I’m not afraid to shoot you! Don’t think I won’t shoot you!”
Jim and I fought, Jim squirming and writhing. I’d never ridden a bull, but this was what I imagined it would feel like. Except that this bull was wearing a tie and he was trying to grab for his gun. Which, just to throw in a brief sidenote, makes me really glad that bulls aren’t allowed to carry guns. Can you imagine the revenge killings?
“Shoot her!” Jim said. “Shoot her! I know you can shoot her!”
“But Jim!” Don yelled. “I can’t shoot her! You know I can’t shoot her!”
“I believe in you!” Jim yelled.
“I don’t believe in me!” Don yelled.
“You’ve got the gun in your hand!” Jim yelled.
“But I don’t have the–”
“Shoot her!” Jim yelled.
And after what had felt like a really long struggle, Don pulled the trigger.
“Your gun doesn’t have bullets?” Blue asked.
“Shit,” Jim said. “Shit, Don. You screwed the pooch.”
“You said I had to believe in myself!” Don yelled.
“I was bluffing,” Jim said. “You should never believe in yourself.”
This all was a relief, but there was still the matter of escape, which I wasn’t that much closer to.
I headbutted Jim again. I headbutted him a third time. Then I headbutted him a fourth time. My head hurt badly, for obvious reasons, and I was starting to feel faint. But I knew I had to keep going.
I headbutted him a fifth time, and he slumped over.
I reached into his pocket, grabbed his gun, and pointed it at Don.
“Does this gun have bullets in it?” I asked Don.
“Uh, well… “ Don trailed off. “I dunno. I never seen Jim use it.”
“Are you feeling lucky?” I asked. “Are you, punk?” I was feeling really glad that I’d been in the room while Cathect had been watching Dirty Harry.
“I, you know, I don’t know if I feel like I’m a lucky guy,” Don said. “I buy lottery tickets all the time but never win nothing. Never win coin flips, either, but I think Jim said that’s ‘cause the guy I always do it with has a two-faced coin and I always choose tails. Uh, you know? I don’t think I feel like a lucky guy. Nope. No siree. I don’t feel very lucky at all.”
I didn’t know whether that was funny or sad. Probably funny? Mostly funny.
“Then you don’t want to see if this gun has bullets in it, do you?” I asked
He stood there for a moment, seeming to consider the possibilities.
“You know what?” Don said. “I don’t want to be a coward. No, I’m gonna stand up to you! You don’t scare me!” He began walking towards me.
Shit. Shit. Shit. There was no way anybody was going to trust these two with a loaded gun.
“I’ll shoot!” I yelled.
“No way,” he said.
“I will!” I yelled.
“You won’t!” he yelled.
The gun had bullets in it.
Before I could even process what had happened, Don was on the floor, writhing in pain.
“Oh god,” he said. Oh my god. I’m so unlucky. Oh, momma. Why am I so unlucky?”
That was the first time I’d ever shot a gun. My hands were shaking. I was sweating everywhere.
“Nano,” Blue said. “Good job. But we gotta get out of here.”
“Oh, man,” Don said. “Oh, the pain. Oh, wow. Getting shot is no fun at all.”
“Nano,” Blue yelled. “We have to get out of here.”
“Right,” I said, walking towards Blue.
“That was so bad-ass,” Cathect said.
My stomach felt like a fish. It flopped while I finished untying Blue’s right wrist. As soon as I was done, I puked a little.
“Oh,” Cathect said. “That was a little less cool.”
I went and untied Blue’s left wrist.
“Why hasn’t anyone come in here?” I asked.
“Soundproofed walls, I’m guessing,” Blue said. “Do you have any idea where we are?
“I have a guess,” I said, finishing up on Blue’s last knot. “Might not be a good one, but I have a guess.”
I untied Cathect’s wrists, while Blue untied Hellfire’s. Blue draped Hellfire over her shoulder, and the four of us walked out that door.
As soon as we did, we knew where we were.
“Sum Industries,” I said, almost disbelieving.
“Hey!” Gary the Gargoyle said, flying through the halls. “You guys been fighting bad guys?”
“Yeah,” Blue said.
“How you doing?” he asked.
“Swell,” I said, forcing the fakest of smiles. “We’re doing swell, Gary. Thanks for asking.”