With Apologies to Stephen King

by Cat Bountry

(Author’s Note: This was originally inspired by a fan fiction found on FanFiction.net, in which the author teleported Sniper into our universe and he went on the adventures with a female character. The story was rather boring but I couldn’t help but find creepy undertones in how subservient Sniper was to this character, and I wrote this. Originally this caused quite a stir on TF2chan that lead to an all-out flamewar, but the author herself was a good sport about this story and found it amusing.)

Opening his bleary eyes, Sniper awoke the same way that he had for the past six months; in quiet desperation, hoping that the previous day had only just been a horrible dream. The low, throbbing pain in his legs was the first indication that no, he had not been dreaming. He didn’t even bother lifting the blanket to check on them, as he knew exactly what was underneath; twin, mangled pillars of flesh, wrapped in gauze and bandage wraps with no splints. He’d probably never be able to walk again, with the minimal treatment he had been given. Here, there were no dispensers, no mediguns with their cool, invigorating fumes that would wash over and renew him in a red, healing cloud. Hell, there didn’t seem to be any indication such things ever existed here. Here, there was only misery and torment… and her.

Her.

His eyes narrowed, and his head lolled back into the pillow. He listened for her, for any sounds that might indicate her presence in the house. He was hardly aware he was holding his breath, until he let it out. The house seemed to be empty. Either that, or she could be asleep. He looked over to the window and squinted. Given the position of the sun in the sky, it was about 8 AM. It was also Friday, and she had work today. Not like he was seriously considering trying to venture out of the bed, though. She kept the wheelchair locked away in the hall closet, where it stayed most of the time, gathering dust. It hadn’t seen the light of day in weeks, not since his last venture with it.

He scooted back on the bed, pushing himself up on his forearms and palms so that he was sitting upright. He reached over to the nightstand, and pawed for his aviators. She liked it when he wore them. Normally, that would be enough motivation for him to never wear them again, but he was afraid of incurring her wrath. He felt pathetic, really. It was his own fault, he supposed, trusting a strange woman whose bedroom he had materialized in when Engineer’s teleporter had malfunctioned. Not only had he been transported into the future, but apparently into another dimension, one where he was a fictional character. It caused something of an existential crisis for him. He remembered how lit up her face was upon seeing him, and how upon being told where and who he was, he simply sat upon her bed, sinking into the mattress and trying to process it all. And she hadn’t even cared. She just stood there, yammering on about things that he barely understood while he stared at the floor between his feet and wondered how he would ever get back home, and how he could not possibly be hearing all this.

He felt that familiar tightness in his bladder and groped for an empty jar. She always made sure that there were plenty in his room. No bedpans or a catheter for him, but fortunately, no diapers either. He unscrewed the lid, scooted his body off to the far side of the bed, and adjusted himself properly. The first few times he had to do this he nearly fell off the bed, ended up spilling urine on the floor, and was punished for it. It was everything he could do to keep from shuddering at the thought of the sharp, electric shocks on his skin. Since then, he was always very careful about making a mess, especially just after he woke up. Giving himself a quick shake, he placed the filled jar down on the floor gently, and plucked up the lid. His arm swooped down over the jar and bumped it. He watched with mounting horror as it wobbled, his eyes growing wide and his skin becoming slick with a chilling sweat, and sucked in his breath sharply as he lashed out a hand to catch it. The jar settled into place, and the urine inside sloshed around less and less until it settled completely.

Letting out a sigh of relief, he carefully took the jar in his hand and screwed the lid back on tightly. He then lifted it up and placed it on the nightstand, handling it as one might handle a porcelain doll. Satisfied that the jar wasn’t going to go anywhere, he scooted back to the center of the bed, hissing in pain as his legs collided with each other. He had to move them, however. The thought of getting bedsores terrified him, and she certainly wasn’t going to come in every few hours and turn him over. He took a deep breath and tossed the sheets off of himself, exposing his atrophied legs.

It hurt to move them. But the last thing he wanted was to have them stick to the sheets. He gripped his right thigh, just above the knee, and slowly set it up so that his heel was propped up onto the frame at the foot of the bed. He tried to flex his gnarled muscles, but this only caused him to wince in pain. He did the same with his other leg, so that now both of his legs were no longer touching the bed. It felt good to have some air underneath his thighs. He settled back onto the bed and stared at the ceiling. He wondered if the other members of RED missed him at all. He wanted to imagine Engineer trying to fix the teleporter, staying up late in his workshop to try and get Sniper back. It had been so long, though, that Sniper thought maybe Engineer forgot, or gave up. They probably had him replaced. That thought hurt him more than his legs did. He missed them all so badly… Engineer, Demoman, Scout, Soldier, Pyro, Heavy, Medic, even the bloody Spy. Listening to the group of them bicker and fight amongst each other would be heaven compared to this.

He wasn’t sure how long he was lying there, staring heavenward, when he heard her alarm go off. He felt every muscle in his body grow tense in anticipation. He could hear the alarm being shut off, and the sounds of her weight shifting on her bed. It wouldn’t be long before she came in, and there was no telling what kind of mood she’d be in. Whatever mood it was, no doubt Sniper would be feeling the brunt of it. He braced himself, as the sound of her bare footfalls on carpet moved closer and closer to his room.

The door opened, and she stood in the doorway, that same, oversized, weathered band t-shirt she used as pajamas hugging her rotund body, stopping not even halfway down her plump thighs. Her hair was short and brown, sticking up in places where she had slept on it funny. She scratched her head, and yawned. “Good morning, Snipes,” she drawled. “Sleep well?”

“Yes’m,” he murmured. She was sleepy, at least. As long as he behaved himself, he thought, he ought to be okay.

“What was that?” she asked, sounding slightly more alert as she walked over to his nightstand.

“Yes, ma’am,” he enunciated more clearly. “Slept just fine, ma’am.”

“That’s good,” she said, picking up his jar and tucking it under her arm. “That’s a good boy.” With her free hand, she petted the top of his head, and then scratched under his chin, which he lifted for her without even being told. “Who’s’ a good boy?”

Sniper hesitated before answering. “Me,” he said flatly. “I’m… I’m a good boy.”

“Yes, you are,” she said, and hummed pleasantly. “I bet you’re hungry. Do you want breakfast?”

“Yes, please, ma’am,” he said.

“Good,” she said, and planted a quick kiss on his forehead. “I’ll go make us some breakfast, then.” She giggled girlishly, and sashayed out of the door, shaking her butt as she scampered off.

As if it missed its cue, Sniper’s stomach growled once she was out of sight. He was hungry, and she did manage to make food that was decent, at least. That was probably the only positive about being kept here, but to say that it made up for anything was so laughable it was insulting. Or at least it would be, if Sniper had it in him to laugh anymore.

She had seemed nice enough, at first; eager to show off everything in her world, lots of generally unimpressive, futuristic gadgets that Sniper looked over with disinterest. She offered him a place to stay in a world he did not belong, and promised him, in his distress, that she would find him a way back. He remembered how touchy-feely she had gotten, her hand resting upon his shoulder as he was shaking with rage, talking him down and telling him it would be all right, and he remembered how he was stupid enough to believe her out of desperation. She instead dragged him around all sorts of insipid places only a teenage girl would be interested in, insisting on taking him shopping for clothes, showing him movies, even showing him the weird little computer game that he came from, and expressing confusion when he was no longer appearing in it, his spot on the roster simply left blank. He did recognize his teammates, however, and that recognition made his skin crawl. But her quirks were becoming too much… she was possessive over him like a child might be possessive over a new toy, and soon demonstrated that she was not willing to help him figure out what had caused the teleporter malfunction, simply chalking it up to a lightning strike outside of her home. Every time a cute girl would show interest in him while they were out and about, she would intervene and take the poor bird aside, and suddenly they’d be looking at him oddly and back off. When he finally lost his patience with her and told her to knock it off and help him get back home, that’s when everything fell apart. He was about to leave her house for good when he felt something blunt collide with the back of his head, and when he woke up, he had been tied down to the bed, lying helpless as she stood over him with a sledgehammer.

Just thinking about it made his legs ache again. He could hear her in the kitchen, singing off-key to herself. It was one of those cruddy pop songs she liked so much, but he dared not even speak less than fondly of it. To be honest, he didn’t really care for most of the music that she listened to on that dinky little iPod thing. But did she ever care to ask Sniper what he liked? Of course not. He smirked, a sour, joyless smile that flickered onto his face for an instant before disappearing again. What a petty complaint, considering everything else she’d done. Then again, being in a situation like this had a funny way of warping one’s perspective.

It didn’t take her too long to come back in his room, humming to herself as she carried a breakfast tray over to his bed, placing it over his thighs. Bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, pancakes and orange juice… all in all, pretty good breakfast. There was, however, also a bowl of that sugary cereal crap she seemed so fond of pushing on him, and he eyed it with disdain.

“There you go,” she cooed, “I expect to see you eat it all up.”

“Thanks, ma’am,” he said with a nod.

“You’re welcome, Snipes,” she said, and bent down to give him another kiss on his cheek.

He hated that nickname. Scout would call him that sometimes whenever he felt like being a dick, but she used that nickname as a token of affection. It used to make his stomach churn a bit when she used it, but nowadays he had just grown mostly numb to it.

He ate his breakfast at a leisurely pace, as she was taking a quick shower. Given that meals were the only thing he had to look forward to during the course of the day, he made sure to savor them. That, and being denied meals as punishment was not uncommon. It had been a good while since the last time that happened, and he wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be happening again anytime soon.

After clearing his plate and downing the glass of orange juice, he was left with only the cereal. For whatever reason, she decided that it would be cute if he liked it. It was kid’s cereal, the kind that had those bland, dried-up marshmallows in it. He had eaten it once, when she had left him home alone, before things went bad, and due to him not really being able to cook very well as well as being very hungry, he ended up settling on that box. This had endeared her for some reason beyond his comprehension, and nowadays she made sure that it would be included in all of his breakfasts. He was full enough, really. He didn’t want to eat it. But it sat there on the tray, the grainy bits of it soaking in milk, and the marshmallows becoming bloated and soggy. How tempting would it be, to just throw the bowl against the wall, or maybe against her head. He wondered if he could kill her with that blow. He could drag himself out of bed, across the floor, find a phone and call the police… He’d probably never be able to make it back home, and he’d be stuck in a place where he didn’t even technically exist, but he wouldn’t be anywhere near her anymore.

Carefully, he lifted the ceramic bowl in both hands, and stared at it. He couldn’t seriously be considering this. If he failed, no doubt she would punish him horribly, and he’d spend days, perhaps even weeks in agony. She didn’t tolerate defiance of any kind. His hands were shaking with dread, as images ran through his mind of what she might do if he missed.

No, he thought. The bowl was too light to kill her. Even if he managed to hit her in the back of the head, it’d probably just bounce off and piss her off more. The most he could manage would to give her a concussion, if he was lucky; certainly not enough to snuff her. Figures, he thought. All the times he tried to stab her with the fork and knife she gave him didn’t work out either. Perhaps if he tried to drown himself in it… could it work? His botched attempts at suicide got him punished even worse than his foiled murder plots.

Just as he was deep in his reverie, the door opened. “Hey, Snipes!” she said, startling him and causing him to lose his grip on the full bowl. “How was your break-” she was cut off when the bowl toppled out of Sniper’s large hands, and spilled onto the floor below, rolling across the carpet briefly before overturning and stopping. He looked down, his pulse in his ears drowning out all other sound, as the carpet soaked up the milk. Slowly, he lifted his head and looked back up at her again, her expression now grim, any hint of the jovial façade that she put on earlier erased.

“I-” He stammered, looking back to the floor, then back to her, then the floor again. “I… I’m sorry, ma’am, I dinnit’… I dinnit’ mean t’-”

“You’ve made a mess,” she said, her voice coming out in a flat, dull monotone.

“You… you startled me,” he whimpered. God, he hated himself. Six months ago he would have never sounded like this to anyone, not even if he were captured and being interrogated by that bastard BLU Spy. “I’m so sorry, ma’am, it wos an accident…”

She didn’t say anything. She didn’t even look at him, just staring at the bowl on the floor. Without a word, she bent down and picked up the bowl, and carried it out. Sniper felt a cold ball of ice in the pit of his stomach, helpless to move or try to avoid whatever she had in store. She came back again, with paper towels, and silently worked on trying to soak up the milk and pick up the bits of toasted oats and marshmallow. He watched her, and found himself unable to move, only following her with his eyes and remembering to breathe. She left the room again, and came back with a bottle of carpet shampoo. Christ, Sniper thought. She was doing this on purpose. She was scrubbing the spot where the milk fell, and she spoke again.

“Your room is going to smell,” she said. “Hope you like sour milk stench.”

Sniper wasn’t sure if he should relax or not. Sarcasm was not much of a reliable indicator as to what would happen next. He became acutely aware that his legs were aching again, and he tried not to tremble too much as she finished up. She left the room again, and Sniper hugged his arms. He could hear her fishing around in one of the drawers in the kitchen. He found himself shuddering. Oh fuck, not the knives, he thought. Please not the knives, anything but the knives…

She came back in the room, holding a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Sniper wasn’t sure what to make of it. She hated smoking, and when he first came here, she would make him smoke outside and tell him about how he could get lung cancer and all sorts of other nasty diseases from it. He hadn’t had a smoke in so long, he almost forgot how much he missed it. But like Pavlov’s dog, he felt that old itch for nicotine. She unwrapped the carton, pulled out a fag, twirled it between her fingers briefly, and sighed.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do with you,” she said. “You’re a real handful, you know that?”

He watched her handle the cigarette between her chubby fingers. His own fingers twitched nervously, and he folded them underneath his palms hoping she wouldn’t notice.

“Is it too much to ask, for you to be neat and quiet and not make a mess of things?” she asked. She noticed Sniper’s eyes were focused on the cigarette, and smirked. “You want this?”

He didn’t know how he should respond. If he said no, he’d be lying, and she didn’t like to be lied to, but if he said yes… it was probably a trick. Maybe she’d let him have it. He had to answer quickly, as she looked as though she were losing patience.

“I said, ‘do you want this?’”

“Y-yes, ma’am,” he admitted. “I would like that very much.”

“I don’t know if you deserve it,” she said. “You made me have to clean up that mess you made. I’ll be late for work now. Boss man’ll chew me out for not showing up on time.”

Sniper fidgeted. “I said I was very sorry, ma’am,” he said, bowing his head.

“I don’t like how you call me ‘ma’am’ all the time, either” she said. “Too impersonal.”

“Just bein’ polite, ma’am,” Sniper said.

“You should call me something else,” she said. “Like a nickname or something. Something that says you love me. You do love me, don’t you?”

Nausea started to take hold of his guts. “Of course I do, luv,” he said.

“‘Luv!’” She squealed like a piglet, her mood changing so fast that Sniper felt as though he had gotten whiplash. “I love that! Call me that again!”

“Yes, luv,” he said. This was humiliating, he thought. What he wouldn’t give to have his weapons back.

She squealed again. Sniper winced at the sound, and she threw herself onto him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and kissing him on the cheek. Sniper felt slightly relieved. He didn’t particularly care for her being affectionate, but it was much, much better than her being angry.

“Ooooh, that’s just the best!” she gushed. “When I come back, we should watch something together! Maybe a Disney movie. Would you like that?”

“Sure, luv,” he said, squirming a big under her grip. “D’you… think I could have that cigarette now, please?”

All the energy that she had so quickly acquired drained from her and her arms felt like lead weights on his shoulders. She pulled back, her hands still upon him, and he could see her face had resumed the stern expression she had before. He tried not to panic, but his eyes still darted around, looking uselessly for some means of escape.

“Who said you were going to get it?” she asked flatly.

“I-I thought you were gonna…”

She threw him back onto the bed, so that he was lying on his back. No, no, no, this was going all wrong. Why had he even said anything? He should have known better than to speak out of turn. He dared not move, and he watched as she took the cigarette she had removed from the carton, and lit it. Instead of putting it to her lips, she watched it burn, and sat on the bed.

“I keep telling you, smoking is bad for you,” she said. “But you never listen to anything I say, now do you?”

If he argued that point, it would only cause more hurting. “I’m sorry, luv,” he said.

“You always say you’re sorry,” she said. “I don’t even know if you mean it.”

“I-I do mean it,” he stuttered. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I said I wos.”

Her face scrunched up in a scowl. She then lunged forward, and Sniper let out a startled screech, as he felt an acute, searing burn on his nipple. He realized, as he looked down at his bare chest and noticed the fresh, sizzling burn on his sensitive skin, that she had ground the cigarette against his flesh. He panted, and scooted away from her with a hand covered his wounded chest, as she stomped out of the room and slammed the door behind her.

Sniper listened for anymore sounds, and closed his eyes when he heard the jingling of her keys and the front door shutting and locking. He had gotten off easy this time, and he had certainly suffered worse injuries, but this was different. This was degrading. With her gone for the day, he’d have nothing to do but to lie in bed. He wasn’t allowed out of the room unsupervised, obviously.

With nothing to do, he was left alone to his thoughts. He’d daydream about escape, about killing his captor, about finding his way home and making it back to Sawmill or Dustbowl or 2fort or wherever his team happened to be stationed, to be welcomed back with open arms and told how much he was missed. Every hour or so, he would change his position on the bed, flip over, or otherwise make sure that he wouldn’t develop some kind of rash from lying in unwashed sheets for too long, but also trying to avoid lying on his burnt nipple. Before too long, he drifted off to sleep again. As he dreamed, he was back in Australia, and driving on his way to his mum and dad’s house in Adelaide, but when he pulled up to where their house was, it was missing. In fact, there was no sign of it ever being there at all, and instead there was a large, black, gaping hole in the ground where the little red house once stood. He leaned over it, peering down inside, and could feel a cool wind blowing up from the hole, blowing away his hat. He tried to grab for it, but he lost his footing, and fell forward, down into the inky blackness of the bottomless pit.

He woke up with a snort. Bad dream again. He shifted on the bed, and noticed his aviators were in his curled fingers. He put them on, and groaned. Bad dreams weren’t very pleasant, but at the very least, he didn’t have a good dream. Good dreams were the worst. There was nothing more depressing than waking up from a good dream in this little room, with his broken legs and his bruised and violated body. He checked the window again. The sun was not longer visible, and it looked to be about early in the evening. She’d be home soon. It was only a matter of time.

Sure enough, he heard the sound of her car pulling up outside, and listened for the door to unlock. Hopefully she’d treat that burn she gave him earlier. With her, he could never be sure.

“I’m home!” she said, her voice adopting the sing-song tone of some 1950’s sitcom husband. The door shut behind her, and her sneakers could be heard tromping up to his room. She opened the door, and her face lit up when she saw him. “There you are!” she said, as though she had been expecting him to be anywhere but where she left him last. “How are you doing?”

“Fine, luv,” he lied. His nipple didn’t bother him as much as it did earlier, but it still stung like hell. “How was your day?”

“Ugh, my boss!” she said, throwing up her hands in frustration. “He’s such an asshole, I swear to God! He never lets me handle the bigger clients, I always have to work in a group of amateurs! Nobody ever listens to my ideas. I think they’re just jealous, though.”

“Of course they are, luv,” he said, nodding. He begged silently that she would at least put some kind of bandage and antiseptic on his chest, but actually bringing that to her attention would be risking it.

“At least you think I’m great,” she said, and sat on the bed, far too close to his legs for comfort. “You’ll always love me, won’t you, Sniper?” She reached out to stroke his cheek, and he tried not to shake too much.

“Yes, luv,” he said.

“Yes, luv, you’ll what?” she asked, gripping his chin between her forefinger and thumb.

“Yes, luv, I’ll always love you.”

“Good boy,” she said, scratched under his chin. “Give me a kiss.”

Not wanting to ruin her good mood, he leaned forward and gave her a quick peck on her cheek. She smiled and giggled, and ruffled his unwashed hair affectionately.

“Oh, my,” she said. “I think somebody needs another bath.”

He felt a jolt as she said that. Out of all the demeaning things she had put him through, he dreaded baths. They had started out with her simply stripping him down, scrubbing his naked body and giggling over seeing his penis, but she had since grown much, much bolder. If she was feeling randy at all, it was bath time. It was very rare that she had ever gotten naked with him, but that didn’t stop the clumsy groping and molestation. She had never tried to make him penetrate her, or do anything at all to her really. He never cared to press the issue. For all her dirty talk about how much he supposedly wanted her tits and her ass, she was downright prudish when it came to herself. That didn’t stop her from grabbing at his genitals, however, but Sniper imagined if he tried to grab her breast, he’d be punished for it. He had no desire to fuck her anyhow, which made bath time all the more degrading.

“I’ll go run it,” she said, trying to sound as flirty as possible. “Don’t go anywhere, now!” She laughed at her own wit.

He groaned, and held his head in his hands. He did not want to go through with this. Not tonight. Not ever again. He closed his eyes, and he prayed to whatever God he thought might be listening to get him out of there, or just end it all. Strike him down with a sudden fatal heart attack, something, anything but this.

It was then his ears picked upon a sound that he hadn’t heard in months, a familiar, swooshing, metallic sound. No, it couldn’t be… it had to be just her game, right? It couldn’t possibly be…

He looked up, and was greeted by a flash of red. Standing in the room, looking very confused, was RED team’s Scout, with a length of rope tied around his waist. The rope disappeared into a spot of red beneath the Scout. He looked around the room, still disorientated from the teleportation, before he finally saw Sniper lying in the bed, shirtless and covered in bruises and more scars than when he had disappeared.

“Sniper?”

“Scout?” Sniper asked in disbelief. “Is… is that you, mate?”

“Yeah, it’s fuckin’ me!” he said. “But Jesus, where are we?”

“Oh God…” he said, unable to hold back tears of happiness. He threw off the sheets from his mangled legs, exposing them to the younger man, before he forgot that he couldn’t get up off the bed to hobble towards him. “Oh Christ, I thought I’d never see you again.”

“The hell’s goin’ on?” asked Scout. “Who the hell did this to you, man?”

She did this t’ me! We need t’ get outta here!” said Sniper. “Quickly, before she comes back!”

“Before who comes back?” Scout asked.

The door to Sniper’s room flew open, and Scout turned around, only to be propelled backwards by an arrow fired into his shoulder and pinned him against the wall. Sniper let out a startled cry, and watched helplessly as she pulled another arrow from the quiver on her back.

“Oh God, what the fuck, lady?” Scout cried, clutching his wounded shoulder.

“I don’t like Scout as much,” she said flatly. “They should have sent Engineer.”

“You crazy bitch, what the hell is wrong with you?” Scout shouted. “What the hell didja do ta Sniper?”

She didn’t answer. She loomed over the wounded young man, watching him struggle, she noticed the rope around his waist, and the red portal on the floor. She tossed the arrow aside for the moment, and reached into the sheath of Sniper’s kukri, pulling out the long, wide blade. Scout tried to pull the arrow out of his shoulder in vain as he watched her take the taut rope in her grip. She raised the blade above her head, and Sniper, who was just a captive audience to this scene unfolding before him, started to shake his head.

“Oh God, no, please, no…” he pleaded with her. “Please don’t, just send him back, please.”

She stared at Sniper, her eyes burning like coals in a fire. She brought down the blade, hacking through the rope in one, swift blow, and watched the rope fall limp on the floor just short of the portal. She moved to kick the rope back in when the room flashed red again, and a different figure materialized before her.

There, holding his Shovel in hand and looking just as confused as the Scout was Soldier, with the same length of rope tied around his waist. He looked down at the woman before him from under his helmet, his blue eyes wide and bulging. “Who are you?” he barked. “Are you a BLU?”

She screeched at him, and swung the kukri wildly. Soldier, however, dodged the blade, and swung his shovel so that the broadside of the spade smacked her on the side of her head, sending her flying into the wall. She slid down it, falling to her knees for a moment, while Soldier stood, gripping and wringing the entrenching tool in both hands.

“If it’s a fight you want, sister, then I’m ready to give it to you,” he snarled. He then hawked up a wad of phlegm, and spit on the floor. “C’mon. Get up and fight me, Rotunda!”

Incensed, she sprung to her feet, and screamed at him as she ran towards him. Soldier screamed in response, and she charged into him, sending the American backwards and onto Sniper’s bed, right on top of his legs. Sniper howled in pain, and hastily covered his mouth, as Soldier managed to kick her back into the wall. She let out a “woof” as the wind was knocked out of her lungs, and collided with the wall again. Soldier sprung off the bed and pounced on her, bringing his Shovel down only to have it blocked by the kukri.

Meanwhile, Scout managed to dislodge the arrow from his shoulder, pulling it out with a shout of pain. Soldier cast a quick glance in the younger man’s direction. “Get him out of here, private!” Soldier hollered.

Scout nodded, and swooped over to Sniper’s bed, grabbing him roughly by the arm and dragging him towards the portal. Sniper yelped in pain as his feet hit the floor. Scout was obviously having trouble carrying the taller man, and waited over the portal as Soldier struggled with her. Scout held the rope that Soldier was attached to and started tugging on it frantically, and the sound of the teleporter firing up filled both of their ears. Sniper clung onto Scout for dear life, and closed his eyes as it grew louder and everything flashed red.

“SNIPER IS BACK!” a familiar voice rumbled.

Sniper looked up. He blinked a few times, and saw the other members of RED team huddled just inside the supply room. It was Heavy who had spoken, and he was the first to lift Sniper into his giant arms and nearly crush the man to death in a overly friendly bear hug. “Doktor, look! Leetle Sniper has returned!”

“Heavy, put him down!” said Medic. “He’s injured!”

“Sorry,” said Heavy, and carried Sniper off to lie him down on one of the benches.

“Whuurrt hurrrpurrned?” Pyro asked, looking at Sniper’s legs in concern.

“Some crazy bitch had kidnapped him or somethin’,” said Scout, opening the supply locker and rummaging for a first aid kit. “She’s in there fightin’ with Soldier.”

“Who on earth would want to kidnap ze Sniper?” asked Spy.

“Some fat chick,” said Scout, opening up the first aid kit. “I think she’s the one who fucked up his legs, man.”

Medic unwrapped Sniper’s slipshod dressings, and examined his legs. “Ach, vat happened to you? Zese look like zey vere broken several times ovah.”

“That’s… that’s exactly what happened,” said Sniper, as Demoman handed him a bottle of Scrumpy. “Thanks, mate.”

“Think nothin’ o’ it,” said Demoman. “Is she still o’er there? I’ll pluck her eyeballs out o’ ‘er head an’ roast ‘em like marshmallows!”

“Please, don’t mention marshmallows t’ me ever again,” Sniper moaned.

“Th’ rift can’t stay stable fer much longer!” Engineer announced, frantically looking from his PDA to the teleporter. “If Soldier doesn’t git back soon, he’s gonna be stuck over there!”

“Aw man, I ain’t goin’ back there,” said Scout, as Pyro helped him wrap up his injured shoulder. “She’s off her fuckin’ rocker man. She’s givin’ Soldier a run for his money!”

“Lemme in there!” Demoman hollered. “I’ll feckin’ murder ‘er until there ain’t nothin’ left tae murder!”

“Demoman, you are stayin’ right where you are!” Engineer shouted back. “We can’t afford t’ lose anybody else!”

“But you can afford to lose Soldier?” Spy asked sardonically.

“You shut it, Spah, that ain’t what I meant!”

The teleporter started to spin again, and all eyes turned expectantly towards it. The lights in the base flickered, as the power required to power the inter-dimensional portal drained on the facility. Engineer grew panicky, coaxing the machine to keep going. Just as the room flashed red, the lights went out, enveloping the entire base in darkness.

“… Soldier?” Engineer asked, removing his goggles from his face to better see in what little light there was. “You there?”

The backup generator switched on, and the fluorescent lights came back to life. Soldier stood, clutching an arrow wound in his side, wobbling as he tried to stay standing. “Soldier, reporting for duty, sir,” he said. “Mission accomplished.” He then collapsed onto the floor, where Medic rushed to his aid, pulling out the arrow and dousing him with the healing gas of the medigun.

“Yeah, use it on him, not on me,” Scout said.

“Your vounds ah not as severe,” said Medic. “Herr Soldier should be fine, as long as he gets some rest.”

“Vhat about Sniper?” Heavy asked.

Medic sighed. “Given zat his injuries vere not treated for so long… it vill be a much longer recovery, und ze Medigun can only do so much. Ve could try to see if respawn has his information logged from before he disappeared…”

“That’s goin’ back a long ways, Doc,” said Engineer. “You think we can do that?”

“Ve must try,” said Medic. “Or Herr Sniper may be crippled for life. Heavy, bring him to ze infirmary for me, bitte.”

“Da, Doktor,” said Heavy, and lifted Sniper up in his arms. It was everything Sniper could do not to start bawling like a spinster at a wedding. He was safe again. He was back with RED team, and he had finally woken up from the months-long nightmare of being trapped with her. No longer was he her personal puppy, no longer was he her castrated doll for her to play with and abuse at her leisure. He was finally free. And right now, that counted more than anything.

“Sniper!” Heavy shouted. “Sniper!”

He looked up at him. “Wot d’ya want?” he asked.

“Sniper, get up!”

He awoke with a start.

He was lying on his back again. He could feel the warmth of Heavy’s arms fade, and as he turned his head, he saw her looking over him.

“I’m sorry, Snipes,” she said. “You just drifted off to sleep while I was getting ready. You look so cute when you’re sleeping.”

He just stared at her slack-jawed. “You’re making me hafta run the bath again,” she said. “If I wasn’t in such a good mood, you’d be in trouble for that.”

He watched as she sauntered off. The rescue in his head felt so vivid this time, so unmistakably real… he slumped forward, and stared at his hands, his fingers curled up like dead insects in his lap.

He brought his hands to his face, and cried.

ALTERNATE ENDING

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“Da, Doktor,” said Heavy, and lifted Sniper up in his arms. It was everything Sniper could do not to start bawling like a spinster at a wedding. He was safe again. He was back with RED team, and he had finally woken up from the months-long nightmare of being trapped with her. No longer was he her personal puppy, no longer was he her castrated doll for her to play with an abuse at her leisure. He was finally free. And right now, that counted more than anything.
As Heavy carried Sniper off, and the rest of the team followed suite Engineer approached Soldier, who was staring fixedly at the teleporter. “Somethin’ wrong, sir?”

“I didn’t kill her, Engie,” he said, untying the rope from around his waist. “She’s still alive, and I don’t know where she is.”

“Wait…” said Engineer. “What th’ heck do you mean, ‘ you don’t know where she is?’”

“I don’t know if she’s still in that room or if she followed me through,” said Soldier.

Engineer’s eyes went wide. “You… you’re serious?”

“Of course I’m serious,” Soldier said. “She put up a hell of a fight, Engie. She’s crafty. I didn’t get to finish her off before the teleporter started to go haywire, and she tried to follow me through.”

Engineer sighed. “We’re gonna hafta keep an eye out for her, then. I just pray she didn’t make it through.”

“Pray, nothin’,” said Soldier. “I’ll hunt that woman down, myself.” With that, he went over to his locker, and pulled out his rocket launcher. “You holler if you see her. Mark my words, Engie, that hell hath no fury like me right now.” With that, he stalked off into the night.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Sniper had awoken later in respawn, after Spy had so generously decided to shoot him in the head to see if the adjustments Engineer had made to respawn had worked. He looked down at his legs, and noticed he was standing. Standing, on his own, with no pain. He almost fell to his knees as they became weak. Thank God, there was no more pain.

“Did it work?” Engineer peered into respawn, and looked at Sniper’s legs. “Any discomfort or anythin’ there at all, Sniper?”

“None,” said Sniper, smiling for the first time in a long time. “I… I feel fine.”

“Glad t’ hear it,” said Engineer, walking inside. “We’re jes’ glad t’ have ya back right as rain. I’m sorry that th’ teleporter malfunctioned in th’ first place.”

Sniper walked forward, his legs wobbling a bit like those of a newborn foal. He found his balance, and laughed.

“You okay there, Sniper?” Engineer asked.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” said Sniper, leaning against the wall for a moment as he found his balance. “It’s just been so long since me legs worked, ya know? I hadn’t walked almost th’ entire time I wos stuck there.”

Engineer frowned. “I feel like I’m partially responsible fer that happenin’ to ya. I had trouble sleepin’ every night since you had disappeared… heck, I was afraid you’d died.”

“It’s not your fault,” said Sniper, now more used to having his legs back, and clapped Engineer on the shoulder. “I’m jes’ glad ya got me back.”

“Couldn’t leave ya there,” said Engineer. “Took me forever to replicate th’ malfunction th’ teleporter had. An’ then t’ hear what she did to ya… Medic told me about some a’ th’ injuries you sustained.”

Sniper thought back to before Engineer had recalibrated respawn. Medic had examined him, making note of every injury on Sniper, every new scar, overwhelming him with a flurry of questions about the burn marks, knife scars, bruises and gashes. Sniper tried to keep his answers as brief and as matter-of-fact as possible, and Medic’s detachment from Sniper’s trauma seemed weirdly comforting. The doctor never really was known for his bedside manner, after all, but Sniper didn’t much care. He was just relieved to have survived the ordeal.

“He did, huh?” Sniper’s voice was flat.

“Yeah,” Engineer removed his helmet and swept a hand over his shaved dome. His head tilted toward the ground. “I… I’m so sorry, Sniper.” He looked up at the Australian, and removed his goggles, placing them on his brow. “What happened to you… that shouldn’t happen t’ anybody.”

“I said it ain’t yer fault,” Sniper reassured him. “You don’t have t’ lose any more sleep over me, all right, Truckie?” He offered Engineer a timid smile.

Engineer smiled back, and laughed nervously. “All righty then,” he said, and placed his helmet back atop his head. “It’s good ta have ya back, Slim.”

“Good t’ be back,” Sniper started to walk out of respawn, and Engineer joined him. “Me van still around?”

“Ain’t been touched since ya left,” said Engineer.

“Thanks, Truckie,” he said. “Listen, if anybody asks where I’ve gone off too, just tell ‘em I’m over there. I think I need some time alone in me own space fer a bit, ya know?”

“I understand perfectly.” Engineer stopped and stood in place beside Sniper. He fidgeted a bit, looked down at his feet and back up at Sniper. “If… if you need anything, anything at all, y’all just let me know, all right?”

“I will,” Sniper said with a nod. He hesitated a moment before grabbing Engineer by the shoulders and pulling him forward, and wrapping his gangly arms around the smaller man in a hug. Engineer let out a nervous laugh, and hugged the taller man back. The two separated, and Engineer let out a relieved sigh.

“You goan’ an’ rest up,” said Engineer. “I’m gonna let HQ in on th’ good news.”

“Thanks,” said Sniper as he started his way out. “I’ll see ya around.”

Sniper shoved his hands in his pockets and walked outside. Walked! Oh, how good it felt to walk again. Like riding a bicycle, it came back to him easily. He inhaled deeply, taking in the dry desert air. It felt so fresh compared to that cramped room which always smelled like sickness and infected tissue and stale urine. The sun was bright, the sky was clear, and though it was hot Sniper found himself not caring as he approached his camper van.

He was free.

He opened the back door and peered inside the empty cabin. Everything was just as he has left it. Sunlight filtered in through the gaps of the shuttered blinds, lighting up dust particles that floated through the air like tiny ghosts. Sniper climbed inside, stripped off his shirt and flopped down on the cot. It was too small for his lanky frame, just as it always was, but it was home and it comforted him. He wrapped his arm around the pillow his head was resting upon, and started to drift off.

In what felt like a few minutes later, he heard a rapping at the camper door. Sniper awoke with a snort, and looked to the window. He had only meant to take a catnap, but it was now dark outside. He grumbled to himself, and swung his legs over the cot. There were three more knocks at the door.

“Christ almighty, I’m comin’, keep yer bloody pants on,” Sniper said aloud as he lurched towards the door. He twisted the knob and swung it open, only to see nobody there. He grunted, and pulled the door back in, only to hit something when he tried to close it. He looked down, and saw what appeared to be his kukri’s blade wedged in the door. He barely had time to react when the blade swung upwards, slicing open Sniper’s chin as he tried to back away.

He fell backwards onto the floor with a crash, and scrambled to pick himself up in the dark, cluttered cabin. His eyes darted towards the now open door, only to see a curvy silhouette framed in the open door.

“Oh, fuck!” he cried out, backing away on his hands as his feet kicked at an old tacklebox. His chin was gushing blood and soaking into his undershirt, but he hardly noticed this in his panic. His eyes went wide as she came in, clutching his kukri in her shaking hand.

“I came for you, Sniper,” she said, her voice flat as the desert ground. “I came all the way here for you…”

Sniper couldn’t find any words. He groped around his camper, hoping to grab some kind of weapon… he had to have something. Would he be able to scream for help? He could, but she would probably kill him before anyone came… wait, he thought.

“You stupid cow!” He spat at her. “You can’t do nothin’ t’ me! I’ve got respawn here! Ha!” His back was now up against the wall of the camper, and he pushed himself so that he was now standing. “Goan’ an’ stab me then, you dumb bird!”

She stopped, and almost lost her balance as her foot came down on a stack of records. She kicked them aside. Her eyes were barely visible in the dark, but Sniper could tell that her eyes were locked on him. Suddenly, he didn’t feel so cocky. He felt his stomach twist with unease as her mouth pulled itself into a smirk.

“Why, I’d never kill you, Snipes,” she said in a baby voice. “I love you too much.”

Sniper had to resist every urge to just curl up and surrender. He was cornered, yes, but he had his legs now. Her conditioning, however, was hard to block out. “Fuck off!” he hollered back at her. “I hate you, you fat, loony bitch!”

“You don’t mean that.” She raised the kukri and held it out in front of her.

“Yes!” he shouted back. “Yes, I bloody do!” His knees were already wobbling. Oh God, what was she planning?

“Don’t worry,” she said, taking a step forward. “I’ll make sure we’re never separated again…” She edged closer to him, and brought the knife up, holding it in front of his face.

Without thinking, his hand reached out and grabbed a hold of a small, round object. He swung his arm at her, slamming a snow globe that his mother had bought him years ago into her temple. She fell onto the cot, and Sniper made a run for the door only to be tripped up. He landed on his split chin, sending a sharp bite of pain into his jaw. He twisted himself around to face behind him, only to see her standing to her feet. Her balance was off, and she tottered towards him, the blood running down the side of her face now visible in the low light. She had acquired many other injuries, no doubt courtesy of Soldier, as her arms and face were purple and bruised. Sniper scooted away from her as she let out a screech, and leapt forward onto him. His head bounced off the floor painfully, and he looked to his side only to see the wide blade stabbed into the floor just short of his ear. He looked back up into her eyes. They looked hollow but livid, and she started to snarl as he squirmed to push her off.

“LOVE ME!” she screamed at him, spittle flying into Sniper’s face. “LOVE ME AND NOBODY ELSE!”

“GO TO HELL!” He shouted, and rolled her off of him. She hit the wall, causing the van to rock with her weight. He sat up and grabbed at her wrist with one hand, and tried to pry her fingers from the handle with the other. She started screaming in incomprehensible syllables, sounding like a startled crow, and then she sank her teeth into his wrist. As she drew blood, Sniper bit back the pain and tried to wrestle the blade from her grasp. He managed to twist himself around just enough to kick her in the stomach, causing her to let out a strangled gasp of air as she unclamped her jaw from his arm. Sniper dug his heel into her abdomen, grinding it as he pulled at her hand. A smile crept over his lips as he watched her writhe underneath him, paying her back for her hospitality. Her eyes bulged from the sockets as he gave her another swift kick just under her breasts, causing her to release his kukri.

He rolled backwards from the pull, but quickly grabbed the blade and stood to his feet, looming over her. His hands were trembling as he looked down at her, the source of his misery for so long. All the hate and rage that had been kept down in the pit of his stomach boiled over. Every scar, every bruise, every burn, cut, and broken bone all seemed to ache all over again. He could recall every time she touched him, violated him, broke him, and as her eyes met his, he realized that there was no remorse there. There was only a smirk, as she looked up at him.

“You won’t hurt me,” she said. “Now, put that down. I know you won’t hurt me. You love me.”

Sniper just stared at her. His hand was shaking, and he felt the fear creeping over him all over again.

“Yes, that’s it,” she cooed. “That’s a good boy.”

He sneered at her, lips curling up to reveal his teeth. “No,” he said. “Not this time, luv.”

His arm swung upwards and dove back down, driving his weapon right into her gut. She made a choked noise, and looked down at the blade that was sticking out of her. She looked back up at him in disbelief, trembling and gaping at him, dumb with shock.

“Sorry, luv,” he said, grinning like a jackal. “I’ve waited far too long for this.”

He savored the look of turgid fear in her eyes. She looked as though she were about to cry. Good, he thought. He wrenched out the blade, causing her to make a sickening gagging sound, before he brought the blade down again. His arm seemed to be moving all on its own, and he felt only dimly aware of the blood splattering onto his face and chest. He hacked at her, chopped at her, blindly bringing the steel down on meat and bone as though he were a butcher gone mad. He hoped she was hurting, just as he had. All the pain and anger and fear she gave to him was being returned in full, care of the kukri. He hadn’t even been aware that he was screaming at her until he started to cry.

He fell backwards, his back hitting the wall of the van as he gasped for air. He didn’t even know why he was crying. He’d killed plenty of men before that had done far less to him, but now he was bringing a red-stained hand to his eyes as tears went down his face. She was gone, finally gone, with nothing left of her but mangled meat and bones and blood. He choked a sob, and shook violently.

“Sniper? Sniper!” Engineer stuck his head in the camper. “Sniper, I heard screamin’ are you…?” he looked down at the floor. “Good Lord! What happened?”

“She’s dead,” Sniper said, not even looking at Engineer. “I killed her.”

“Oh God… that was her?” Engineer cupped a hand over his mouth. “Oh, God.”

“What happened?” Soldier shouted from a distance. “Where is she? I’ll gut her like a goddamned bass!”

“He found her!” Engineer shouted back, his voice cracking with unease. “We don’t gotta worry about her no more jus’… jus’ go back inside!” He turned to look back at Sniper. “You okay, pardner?”

Sniper didn’t respond at first. The question didn’t register in his mind for a few seconds, until he turned his head to look at Engineer. He still said nothing, and the shorter man was clearly growing uncomfortable with the silence.

“Jeez, she did a number on you,” Engineer said. “C’mon, Stretch, let’s get you to th’ infirmary an’ patch you up, all right?” He extended a hand to Sniper and tried to offer him a smile.

“Right,” Sniper finally said, gripping Engineer’s forearm and pulling himself out. In the moonlight, the blood on his skin was now fully visible, marking his body like war paint.

“At least now you’re free from her fer good, yeah?” said Engineer, clapping a hand on Sniper’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” said Sniper, as he was lead off to the infirmary. As he walked the distance from his van to the base, he thought of her again, how she had tortured him and broken him so completely. She had almost destroyed him, she had. And she would still be there, imprinted in his memories to be conjured up in nightmares and flashbacks to haunt him for the rest his days.

He would never be truly free of her, and that was why he had cried.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrby feather