Escaping the Devil: Chapter Thirty-Three



This story is rated Mature for adult language, sexual content, references to graphic violence, drug, and substance abuse. This means that this is intended for audiences 18 and up.

Eli froze, her fingers tightening around her intended weapon. Martin’s gaze hardened, his head shaking once. “Don’t do this.” A warning, just as much as it was a plea. 

It was on the tip of her tongue. A plea to let her go. A plea to not make her have to do this. But she saw the resignation in his eyes, washing over him in the span of a stuttered heartbeat. 

They both had their roles to play.

She hesitated too long. His fist collided with her temple, causing pain to erupt behind her eyes. She saw stars, and ringing filled her ears. Her hold on the wooden stake loosened. Then, without ceremony, he wrenched her from the bed and hoisted her over the shoulder.

The room spun, and she felt sickness crawling up her throat. She wasn’t sure which way was up nor which way was down. She was suspended in a black sea, watching as stars erupted from the ocean floor.

Martin stopped suddenly, thrusting his shoulder roughly into her abdomen. Vomit filled her mouth as she felt herself being pitched forward — her pride was what allowed her to swallow it down, scalding her throat in the process. Convinced that she would fall, she threw her hands out to catch herself, too aware of how every part of her felt aching. Raw. 

Her captor’s hold on her did not loosen. Instead, it tightened, his torso twisting quite abruptly, digging his shoulder further into her belly. Eli couldn’t catch her bearings, the world coming to her in a tilt-a-whirl of sensation.

It wasn’t until he began to run that she started to come back to herself. Thunderous sounds erupted around them. It sounded like explosions — larger than life, guttural destruction. Panicked, she kicked her legs, trying to twist herself out of his arms. 

To do what? Run for cover? She couldn’t even see straight.

A raw, animalistic desire to survive took hold, chasing away her better sense. She writhed in his grip, only fleetingly aware of his pleas for her to stop. 

And then he did. Suddenly. A banshee’s screaming filled her ears — tinny, high-pitched, screeching, forever ringing. Her stomach twisted again in protest, and every inch of her felt hot. Her skin pricked with perspiration. 

And then she fell.

She lost her breath on impact. Pain lanced up her arm, radiating from the wrist she had collapsed upon. Tears stung her eyes, and her vision blurred. She saw gray — the gray of the clouds overhead, now swimming behind her eyes. Gray, in the shapeless forms that hovered overhead. 

“Jesus,” she heard a familiar voice curse. Strong arms closed around her, wrenching her from the ground.

The scent of blood accosted her, mixing with the pungent acidic stench of vomit. She screamed, her arms and legs flailing as she tried to escape. 

“Eli!” The voice rasped. “Eli! It’s us!” 

She felt like they were moving. The arms that enveloped her slowly swam into view. Tattoos, tanned skin. Blearily, she blinked her eyes, her attention focused skyward. “G-Gunner?” 

“We got you,” Yui chimed, her cold fingers coiling around her forearm, carefully avoiding her throbbing wrist. “We got you.” 

Gunner cursed under his breath, his eyes darting panicked from side to side.

“You came back for me?”

“Of course,” he replied, so matter-of-fact it was like there had never been any other option.

But he had made a choice. She had been the choice. 

Tears burned hot, her heart doing a strange topsy-turvy at the realization. 

“We have to get you out of here.” He held her closer, his heartbeat racing in her ear.

“This way!” Yui called.

Their voices became little more than a distant symphony — a lullaby.  

Eli awoke a few hours later, laid out in the backseat of their car. Yui had lovingly tucked her in, fashioning a pillow out of her favorite sweaters. The pain in her wrist had dulled to a low throb — a cursory look in the passing streetlights told her that someone had wrapped it while she had been unconscious.

Slowly, she forced herself into an upright position. 

“Hey,” Yui soothed, twisting around in her seat. “Take it easy. You took a pretty nasty lump.”

“Hm,” Eli grumbled, her good hand shifting to the rat’s nest her hair had become. With a bit of probing, she found the tender spot. The skin was hot to the touch and raised in a jagged line. Having suffered a similar injury before, she knew that Martin had managed to split her skull. 

She flexed her hand and stretched her fingers, testing the extent of the damage to her wrist. “Was it broken?” She asked, daring to twist it slightly from one side to the other. Neither needed to answer when she felt a shockwave of pain radiate up her forearm. 

“Yeah,” Gunner said grimly. 

“How is it already mostly healed?” 

Their eyes met in the rearview. Eli could see the slight crinkle around his eyes. “I may have helped myself to some… extra provisions from Serenity.”

She frowned, her gaze falling to the floor of the backseat. Sure enough, she saw a stockpile of salves and tinctures.

A dull thump snapped her attention to the front seat. Gunner massaged his chest while Yui glared daggers at him. 

“You stole from them?”

“If you recall, they told us to stock up,” he protested. “I would be an idiot not to stock our medical supplies, too.”

The Siren couldn’t think of a retort, though her displeasure was evident in how she slumped into the passenger seat. 

“It did, in a day, what would have taken at least a week,” Gunner justified, but it seemed that his protests were falling on deaf ears. Yui hugged herself tighter and stared petulantly out the window.

“Thanks,” Eli croaked, desperate to save them both from further squabbling. Her pounding head couldn’t take it. “And thanks for… you know. Coming back for me.”

“Of course,” the Siren gasped, twisting in her seat to meet her gaze. “Eli, there is no way in Hell I would ever let you go back to that place. You hear me?”

Her lips quirked in a half smile — as close to a sentimental grin as she would allow herself. “Thanks,” she murmured. “Where are we?” 

“About a day’s drive from Sanctuary Hills,” Gunner replied.

Eli took note of the strangeness in his voice but decided not to press. “Really?” She squeaked, unable to hide her excitement. “We’re almost there?”

“Finally,” Yui groaned, collapsing back into the seat. “What I wouldn’t give for a real bed?”

“Well, you’ll have to put up with a sleeping bag and the ground for one more night.” 

“Aw,” the Siren huffed. “I’m gonna miss it.”

“Woman,” Gunner growled, shooting her a sidelong glance. “Make up your mind!”

Yui huffed, folding her arms around her middle. “You’re being a real jerk.” 

Eli couldn’t help it. She laughed.

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