Love and hate
How much more are we supposed to tolerate
Can't you see there's more to me than my mistakes
Sometimes I get this feeling - makes me hesitate
-Love & Hate
Night air screamed through the holes and cracks of the old barn deep in the field off the side of the motorway and made the heavily rusted iron tools hanging from various fixtures creak and clang together like the ghosts of an overworked chain gang. Every fresh gust of wind stirred the stale scent of damp, rotten wood and hay and fermented cow dung around.
Ava frowned as she moved further in, clutching a bottle of vodka, prompted by Aiden and the groaning man slung over his good shoulder. She covered her nose and mouth with her other hand, holding her breath for good measure to lessen the taste of decay from settling on the back of her tongue.
“Do we have to do this here?” she grunted behind tightly squeeze fingers, “It reeks.”
Aiden dropped Junie on the ground in the centre of the barn floor, ignoring his howls. She flinched. “Stop complaining.” He turned in a slow circle and surveyed his surroundings; high beams, stacks of hay undoubtedly scattered around the floor by the rodents that hid within them, meat hooks stained with dried blood, iron chains, pitch forks, buckets with the bottoms missing, and… “Hand me that rope.” He grabbed a thick iron chain with a hook hanging from it from off the wall and looked up at the central beam above Junie’s body. “Perfect,” he smiled with steely eyes.
Ava shifted her footing, “Are you going to hang him?” she frowned.
His steely eyes snapped to her with a tone to match, “Get the rope, Ava-Marie.”
She stepped away from him and hugged the vodka bottle to her chest, “Okay.” She trudged through the rotten hay and skipped over thick clumps of animal faeces, stirring up families of blue bottle flies into erratic buzzing tornadoes that she swatted at and ran away from. Like everything else in the neglected vicinity that was able to collect any moisture, the rope was damp and rotten, covered with more of those disgusting flies, wound around a thick nail that had bowed so much over the years that she was sure it was glad to be rid of the weight. She grimaced when it made contact with her skin and heaved when the concentrated smell of decay flowed directly into her already abused nostrils. She glared at Aiden’s back.
He was busy flinging the chained hook behind him and launching it into the air over and over until it sailed up and over the top of the wooden beam. He furrowed his brow and tugged on it. When the beam didn’t collapse and take the rest of the barn with it he made a satisfied sound. He held his hand out behind him and tugged some more just to be sure, “Rope.”
She trudged back to him through the cloud of flies and cursed when her trainers sunk into a pile of dung she’d successfully avoided the first time around. “I hate this fucking barn.”
Aiden peered over his shoulder at her, “Complain again and your little boyfriend won’t be the only one tied up in this fucking barn.” His dark, steely eyes held her glare until she looked away. She shrugged the rope off of her shoulder into his palm in silence. “Good girl.”
She stilled, his infrequent coveted praise giving her a soft flutter of that warm feeling in her chest -for a moment -then scowled at him harder than before.
He smirked to himself and dropped the rope next to Junie, then pulled Ash’s mora knife blades out of their sheaths strapped to his ankles and calves and laid them carefully on the ground in order of size. He ran his finger tips across them, the way one would across piano keys, exhaled and smiled.
“What if he doesn’t talk?”
“Everyone talks to me. Open the vodka.” He sat Junie upright, holding onto his shoulder so he wouldn’t topple over and stretched out his leg. Junie groaned. “Pour it onto his knee. Not too much, we’ll need quite a bit of that for later.”
Ava edged closer and dribbled a small amount over Junie’s gunshot wound.
“AAAAAAHHHHH!” he howled, fully conscious, his eyes wide and staring at Ava, “FUCKING BITCH!”
Aiden grabbed his face and turned it to face him, making Junie suddenly remember that he was there and that Vince’s daughter pouring alcohol into his open wound was the least of his worries. He whimpered.
“Do it again,” he nodded at the bottle.
Ava was quicker to pour this time. Junie screamed. “Fucking bitch!” she spat.
“Apologise,” Aiden repeated, fighting the smile that played around the corners of his mouth. She was developing a mean streak. He could work with a mean streak.
“Good.” He crouched down to his level, “Now that we have your full attention, I have a few questions for you.”
“You think I’m telling you shit?”
“Oh, I know you will.” He picked up the smallest of the four blades and pressed the tip of it against Junie’s cheek. Junie tried to pull back, but Aiden kept his head firmly in place. He dragged the blade lightly from the corner of his mouth to the base of his earlobe, “Because all of those stories that you’ve heard about me,” he circled the blade to the back of his ear, “They’re all true.”
“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH! FUCK! MY FUCKING EAR! YOU CUT OFF MY FUCKING EAR!”
“Yes, I did.” He laid the ear on the ground in front of the knives. Ava’s mouth fell open. The cut was so clean that it looked like it came off of a morbid Mr Potatohead toy. Aiden wiped the blood on the blade off on Junie’s shirt, “So that means that you have to listen extra carefully.”
“You’re fucking crazy!”
Aiden ignored him; “Grab his arms.”
Ava was still staring at the lone ear on the ground. She looked at Junie and her heart sank for him. This was just the beginning and it was already worse than either of them could have imagined.
“Why are you doing what he says? He kidnapped you and killed your dad. He’s a fucking psychopath.”
“He is,” she frowned at him, “But he’s never planned to rape me then take me back to someone who wants me dead.” She moved behind him and grabbed his arms, “Better the devil you know.”
“I was never gonna rape you_”
“I heard you!” She yanked them backwards, “You even had the audacity to laugh about it. So yes, I will help the psychopath. Whatever he does to you, you deserve it.”
Junie cackled and shook his head, “He’s got your head all messed up, girly. Yeah, I heard you moaning on top of the boot. He’s got you playing his little whore and you’re loving it, aren’t you?” he grinned, old blood and saliva sitting in the spaces between his teeth. Ava tightened her grip on his wrists. “You’ll do whatever he says, as long as he keeps sticking his cock in you. Stupid girl! You’re gonna end up just like that red headed bitch_”