Netheniel’s eyes fluttered open. The first thing his dreary gaze caught was the rustic shine of ancient bars, only inches from his face. His side ached from the hard floor and his arm lay under his weight, asleep. He breathed in and caught the acrid smell of moss and dirt. With a sigh, Netheniel turned with deliberation onto his back and gazed up towards the ceiling, where many areas were thick with cobwebs.
“Ah, you’re awake.”
Netheniel stiffened at the calm voice and whipped his head towards it. The man sat in a fold-up chair just outside of the bars, leaning against his palm. A passive look crossed his face as he watched Netheniel hurry to sit up against the rigid wall.
He tried to remember the man’s name, thinking back to the ambush. Matt. That was the man’s name. Netheniel’s gaze darkened as the man—Matt—sat back into the chair.
How was I out? The question rang in his mind, causing him to stiffen. Netheniel didn’t remember much—he didn’t even remember falling asleep.
Netheniel pursed his lips.
The man raised his eyebrows. He waited for Netheniel to speak for a moment, and then grimaced at him for not replying. “I said, hello.”
“How had I fallen asleep?”
Matt stiffened, his eyes narrowing at Netheniel. “You hadn’t. We knocked you out.”
Netheniel stared at him with wide, disbelieving eyes. How? No matter what Netheniel had done before, he wasn’t able to knock himself out.
Matt seemed to hesitate for a moment. “We aren’t going to hurt you until you give us a reason to.”
“Really.” There was no question in Netheniel’s tone—just a dark, challenging feel as he leaned his head against the concrete.
The man’s eyes dimmed for a moment. With a deep breath, he stood up and gripped a bar in his hand. His knuckles were tight against the hold as he leaned his face to the cold metal. “Mr. Bater. As long as you cooperate, we will not test anything type of torture on you.”
Netheniel raised his eyebrows and crossed his arms. “Okay.”
The man let out a sigh of relief as his posture relaxed.
Their eyes met. For the longest of moments, Netheniel’s passive gaze and Matt’s narrowed stare held another.
“I have some questions,” Matt continued after the tense moment.
The man’s lips tightened, but he didn’t acknowledge Netheniel’s dark tone. He popped his knuckles and sat back into the chair, getting comfortable for the talk.
“How long have you been in this town?”
“Ever since I was born.”
Matt raised his eyebrows. “Wow. Can you explain what happened to you?”
Netheniel’s nostrils flailed. The question threw him off. “Aren’t you curious about the murders?”
“I am, but I know that if I don’t become acquainted with you, I will still know what I know now—nothing.”
He pursed his lips at Matt and shrugged. “I don’t know anything.”
“But your father did. He must have told you,” Matt said as he rubbed at his chin. A dark look passed his eyes for a moment, and he leaned forward to mutter. “You know, we can always get him here and find out. I’m sure he’d love to see you here.”
Netheniel’s glare ignited with anger. He clenched his teeth and slowly shook his head, both to deny his anger and Matt. “That isn’t necessary. He has been keeping track of the murders, but hasn’t bothered the police about information. He has picked up on some strange factors to the cases, but none of them match me. At all.”
“Then what does match you?” Matt watched every move he made.
It was unnerving, Netheniel realized. “I don’t know,” he muttered with a sigh of despair. Netheniel ran a hand over his face, thinking deeply. What was he?
“You don’t know what you are, Mr. Bater?”
Netheniel pursed his lips and watched as Matt raked a hand through his hair. The look of astonishment would have been comical if it weren’t for the feel of the conversation.
“I see.” Matt stood up and picked at the fabric of his pants. Netheniel watched as Matt glanced over at him, his eyes containing a certain gleam.
Netheniel grimaced and looked away.
“I will be back in a while,” Matt said after a few drawn out moments. His narrowed stare stayed on Netheniel as he cautiously made his way to the door. It seemed to Netheniel that he was afraid to turn his back.
The man disappeared around the corner of the small cellar. After a second, Netheniel heard a soft clicking sound and he knew that he had been locked in.
His gaze drifted around the small room. He watched as water dripped from the corner of the ceiling, pooling on the floor below. Scurrying sounds echoed through the small room—possibly rats.
Netheniel wrapped his arms around his knees and leaned his head against them, sighing.