this way to the egress

Author: David VC /

He held onto the one of the wooden stairs so tightly with his free hand that he felt as if his fingernails were ready to shatter. His other arm was pulled to its limit by the same sadistic guard, who clutched it tightly with both hands as he howled with laughter.

"It's 'alf a mile drop, Yankee!" he shouted. "Nothin' but Zee below ye!"

From behind his mask the prisoner looked up helplessly at his tormentor. At the edge of his hearing, he sensed something high-pitched, getting louder by the second.

One of the pilots placed his arm on the guards shoulder, and pointed into the blackness, shouting "BATS!" over the rising din.

The prisoner looked behind him. A swirling column of red eyes snaked in the darkness towards the ship. For a long moment, he pondered which would be the more merciful fate: to be eaten alive by the dark swarm, to plummet to whatever lay below, or endure the further brutalities of the airship.

He tugged frantically at his shackles, nearly toppling the guard onto the dangling stairs and over to throw them both into the dark expanse. The guard, however, tugged back with desperate might, assisted by the pilot. In a few seconds he was thrown to the floor again, and the wind abruptly stopped as the stairway was drawn up.

He curled up to protect his head from the flurry of kicking and stamping with an unending stream of poorly enunciated curses. He shook with fear, dreading what punishment he would endure next. His fears were surpassed as the guard pulled at his trousers.

He struggled as if it was his last chance,and managed to gouge at his eyes. He was so busy fending off the guard's hands pulling away his wrists that he didn't realize he wasn't the only one screaming until he felt a pistol pushed into his face.

"STAY DOWN!" the pilot shouted. "You!" He was shouting at the guard now. "Get in the cabin! Sounds like a riot back there!"

Again, the fumbling of the keys. The door was smashed in from the outside before it was unlocked. The mangled body of the second guard was thrown with great force over him as a pistol cracked in rapid rounds in the confines of the cabin.

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