Rules of Engagement


He finds the silence to be far more unnerving.

He can tune out the screams, the cries for help, the begging, the laughter, the taunts, the dirty talk, the bones breaking, all varieties of flesh on flesh, and whatever else can be heard emanating from the basement. Unpleasant as they may be, they are the noises of a war that has long since lost any semblance of civility, so much so that even the Head Bitch has stopped complaining about their “wanton depravity” (as if doing nothing more than killing each other over and over again was somehow less deprived) so long as the average productivity doesn’t slip too far below what she demands of them.

It’s when he can’t hear what’s being done to whoever was unlucky enough to be a “guest” in the “Fun Room”, though he knows that one or more or his teammates are down there, that his imagination goes into overdrive, and the conscience he thought to have gone numb ages ago stands before him with sword in hand to stab him with all sorts of accusations, accusations that continue though he no longer makes trips to the accursed place, neither to watch as a detached observer or to dispense random acts of kindness that proves to be all the more cruel once it becomes clear that there is no release from captivity, not even in death. He hates himself for his cowardice, but he knows that any action on his part to make things better for the enemy team beyond giving false hope would be seen as treason, and he still remembers how much worse it was when one of their own was marched downstairs and never seen again.

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