Horse-Face let loose a blood-curdling scream as he thrashed about on his bed. He struggled to break free of his bindings, to no avail.
At the foot of the bed, The Builder stood watching. They remained expressionless when he tried to jerk his right arm enough to break his confinement apart.
The efforts were in vain. Horse-Face shouted until his voice grew tired. Then his screams became little more than whimpers.
Sweat was pooling under him as the last of his energy evaporated. Horse-Face slumped back as he tried to catch his breath.
He felt the Builder’s ungloved hand tapping his leg. Then came an exasperated sigh.
“If that’s only one memory doing all that to you, then you’re in for a hell of a ride, Horsey.”
They approached the door leading back out into the hallway. “We’ll continue this tomorrow. Hopefully you don’t piss yourself again.”
Only when they left was he aware of the smell. He was apparently causing too much of a ruckus to notice initially.
The nightmarish images he had seen were enough to now drive him to tears.
Shark and Sinbad were sitting awkwardly in the exam room now. When they weren’t looking down at their hands, they were sneaking a glance at Dennis leaning on the table.
“Shouldn’t be long now, you two,” he said as he caught them looking. “Don’t you worry. I’m quite certain there’s nothing wrong with me. Just a routine checkup, is all.”
“Yeah, but still,” Sinbad said while trying not to glance at the slightly too open hospital gown.
Shark now turned his attention to the door. “Can I go to the gift shop anyway? I want to see what they have to offer.”
Dennis nodded. “I’ve got a few dollars in my wallet. You can use that and see if you find anything you like.”
The door opened again. Horse-Face prepared himself in case The Builder came back to start Round 2 earlier than expected.
To his surprise and relief, it wasn’t them. At least, he didn’t think The Builder wore ox horns on their head alongside a mask.
“Hey.” The shaky, unnatural tenor of the other man’s voice was oddly comforting. “You, uh…You hungry after what you been through?”
Despite his face being covered, Horse-Face was certain his partner was worried. He took notice of the way his hands were shaking, while holding a bowl of potato soup.
“No I’m all right, Ox-Head,” Horse-Face croaked out, “But thank you anyway.”
“You sure? Moony made it for you. And Moony, while he was making it, his arm fell off again, and…”
Horse-Face listened as Ox-Head prattled on about their colleague. He tried to lose himself in the stream of words, but found himself unable to do so.
“Ox-Head?” His chatty partner stopped, briefly. “Did you have to go through this with the original Horse-Face, or yourself?”
“Huh? Yeah. Not fun to watch. Hurt like Hell, too. Ruined a good pair of pants when it was over.”
Sitting on the floor next to him, Ox-Head regaled him with his own ordeal. “You see things you don’t want to see. Hear things you don’t want to hear. The feelings you experience are like being stabbed in the ass with a hot poker.”
Turning his head away, Horse-Face nodded. “That sounds about right.”
Shark was practically taken by the selection of flowers they offered. He didn’t know whether he wanted to get some for his father, or just for himself.
“They’re so pretty…” Part of him wanted to buy some and take them home to brighten the place up. Another part of him felt there was no point to it. They would only wilt in a few weeks anyway.
Trying to pry his attention away from the flowers, Shark now directed his sight towards the stuffed animals and candy.
“Dude, come on. Your dad’s getting a prostate exam, not an angioplasty.” Sinbad had been really quiet if Shark hadn’t noticed him until now. “Or are you just looking at all this stuff for the hell of it?”
Shark shrugged. “Maybe a little of both. You know, just like to take home? They’ve got some nice stuff.” Now his attention was entirely towards the sweets. “Hey, maybe we can make a chocolate basket.”
The suggestion was an odd one to think about. Or at least Sinbad assumed so.
“Your dad is getting a finger in his ass, and you want to get chocolate. Might want to rethink that idea, man.”
Either Ox-Head forgot to untie him before he left, or he was under orders not to do so. Whatever the case, Horse-Face remained tied to the bed.
Somewhere else in the place, he could hear The Builder screaming. The incoherence of their tirade made it difficult to tell what exactly was wrong.
It clarified when they walked by his room:
“Which one of you miserable fuckheads took my hunting knife?! Dammit, I need to skin something!” Horse-Face tried to remember himself where they’d misplaced it.
They kept ranting down the hall, until they entered another room. Then the ranting morphed into unintelligible shrieking once more.