"He'll hurt me if I help you," she said.
"He's planning on you being the human sacrifice to raise his ancestor. How much more hurt can you get?"
She blinked at me, but her eyes were clearing. It was almost as if panic were a drug, and Wanda was fighting off the influence. Or maybe it was Harold Gaynor who was the drug. Yeah, that made sense. She was a junkie. A Harold Gaynor junkie. Every junkie is willing to die for one more fix. But I wasn't.
"Untie me, Wanda, please. I can get us out of this."
"And if you can't?"
"Then we're no worse off," I said.
She seemed to think about that for a minute. I strained for sounds from the hallway. If Bruno came back while we were in the middle of escaping, it would be very bad.
Wanda propped herself up on her arms. Her legs trailed out behind her under the skirt, dead, no movement at all. She began dragging herself towards me. I thought it would be slow work, but she moved quickly. The muscles in her arms bunched and pushed, working well. She was by the chair in a matter of minutes.
I smiled. "You're very strong."
"My arms are all I have. They have to be strong," Wanda said.
She started picking at the ropes that bound my right wrist. "It's too tight."
"You can do it, Wanda."
She picked at the knot with her fingers, until after what seemed hours, but was probably about five minutes, I felt the rope give. Slack, I had slack. Yea!
"You've almost got it, Wanda." I felt like a cheerleader.
The sound of footsteps clattered down the hall towards us. Wanda's battered face stared up at me, terror in her eyes. "There's not time," she whispered.
"Go back where you were. Do it. We'll finish later," I said.
Wanda hand-walked back to where Bruno had laid her. She had just arranged herself into nearly the same position when the door opened. Wanda was pretending to be unconscious, not a bad idea.
Tommy stood in the doorway. He'd taken off his jacket and the black webbing of the shoulder rig stood out on his white polo shirt. Black jeans emphasized his pinched-in waist. He looked top-heavy from lifting so many weights.
He'd added one new thing to the outfit. A knife. He twirled it in his hand like a baton. It was almost a perfect sheen of light. Manual dexterity. Wowee.
"I didn't know you used a knife, Tommy." My voice sounded calm, normal, amazing.
He grinned. "I have a lot of talents. Gaynor wants to know if you've changed your mind about the zombie raising."
It wasn't exactly a question, but I answered it. "I won't do it."
His grin widened. "I was hoping you'd say that."
"Why?" I was afraid I knew the answer.
"Because he sent me in here to persuade you."
I stared at the glittering knife, I couldn't help myself. "With a knife?"
"With something else long and hard, but not so cold," he said.
"Rape?" I asked. The word sort of hung there in the hot, still air.
He nodded, grinning like a damn Cheshire cat. I wished I could make him disappear except for his smile. I wasn't afraid of his smile. It was the other end I was worried about.
I jerked at the ropes helplessly. The right wrist gave a little more. Had Wanda loosened the rope enough? Had she? Please God, let it be.
Tommy stood over me. I stared up the length of his body and what I saw in his eyes was nothing human. There were all sorts of ways to become a monster. Tommy had found one. There was nothing but an animal hunger in his gaze. Nothing human left.
He put a leg on either side of the chair, straddling me without sitting down. His flat stomach was pressed against my face. His shirt smelled of expensive after-shave. I jerked my head back, trying not to touch him.
He laughed and ran fingers through the tight waves of my hair. I tried to jerk my head out of his reach, but he grabbed a handful of hair and forced my head back.
"I'm going to enjoy this," he said.
I didn't dare jerk at the ropes. If my wrist came free he'd see it. I had to wait, wait until he was distracted enough not to notice. The thought of what I might have to do to distract him, allow him to do to me, made my stomach hurt. But staying alive was the goal. Everything else was gravy. I didn't really believe that, but I tried.
He sat down on me, his weight settling on my legs. His chest was pressed against my face, and there was nothing I could do about it.
He rubbed the flat of the knife across my cheek. "You can stop this anytime. Just say yes, and I'll tell Gaynor." His voice was already growing thick. I could feel him growing hard where he was pressed against my belly.
The thought of Tommy using me like that was almost enough to make me say yes. Almost. I jerked on the ropes and the right one gave a little more. One more hard tug and I could get free. But I'd have just one hand to Tommy's two, and he had a gun and a knife. Not good odds, but it was the best I was going to get tonight.
He kissed me, forcing his tongue in my mouth. I didn't respond, because he wouldn't have believed that. I didn't bite his tongue either because I wanted him close. With only one hand free, I needed him close. I needed to do major damage with one hand. What? What could I do?
He nuzzled my neck, face buried in my hair on the left side. Now or never. I pulled with everything I had and the right wrist popped free. I froze. Surely he'd felt it, but he was too busy sucking on my neck to notice. His free hand massaged my breast.
He had his eyes closed as he kissed to the right side of my neck. His eyes were closed. The knife was loose in his other hand. Nothing I could do about the knife. Had to take the chance. Had to do it.
I caressed the side of his face, and he nuzzled my hand. Then his eyes opened. It had occurred to him that I was supposed to be tied. I plunged my thumb into his open eye. I dug it in, feeling the wet pop as his eye exploded.
He shrieked, rearing back, hand to his eye. I grabbed the wrist with the knife and held on. The screams were going to bring reinforcements. Dammit.
Strong arms wrapped around Tommy's waist and pulled him backwards. I grabbed the knife as he slid to the floor. Wanda was struggling to hold him. The pain was so severe, it hadn't occurred to him to go for his gun. Putting out an eye hurts and panics a lot more than a kick to the groin.
I cut my other hand free and nicked my arm doing it. If I hurried too much, I'd end up slitting my own wrist. I forced myself to be more careful slicing my ankles free.
Tommy had managed to get free of Wanda. He staggered to his feet, one hand still over the eye. Blood and clear liquid trailed down his face. "I'll kill you!" He reached for his gun.
I reversed my grip on the knife and threw it. It thunked into his arm. I'd been aiming for his chest. He screamed again. I picked up the chair and smashed it into his face. Wanda grabbed his ankles, and Tommy went down.
I pounded at his face with the chair until the chair broke apart in my hands. Then I beat him with a chair leg until his face was nothing but a bloody mess.
"He's dead," Wanda said. She was tugging at my pants leg. "He's dead. Let's get out of here."
I dropped the blood-coated chair leg and collapsed to my knees. I couldn't swallow. I couldn't breathe. I was splattered with blood. I'd never beaten someone to death before. It had felt good. I shook my head. Later, I'd worry about it later.
Wanda put an arm over my shoulders. I grabbed her around the waist, and we stood. She weighed a lot less than she should have. I didn't want to see what was under the pretty skirt. It wasn't a full set of legs, but for once that was good. She was easier to move.
I had Tommy's gun in my right hand. "I need this hand free, so hold on tight."
Wanda nodded. Her face was very pale. I could feel her heart pounding against her ribs. "We're going to get out of this," I said.
"Sure," but her voice was shaky. I don't think she believed me. I wasn't sure I believed me.
Wanda opened the door, and out we went.