The boy, distrustful and scared, moves away from me as far as his chains will reach, whimpering. His eyes are blank, there's only an inarticulate terror there, no sign of intelligence or normal thought process. He whimpers like puppy that's been kicked too many times and crouches at the far length of the chain, watching me. I can't tell how old he is, he's undernourished so may be small for his age. His arms and legs are like twigs, lumpy over his knees and elbows where the bones jut out, and his face is pinched.
I feel a sick kind of roaring in my head, looking at him. I felt the same way once when I was a kid and I picked up a cat on the street. It seemed docile and sat in my arms looking at me with its amber eyes. Something, I don't know what, a feeling maybe, made me turn it over. Underneath its belly was a mess of fur and blood and I could see the bones of its feet revealed as white lumps in the bloody, ragged pads of its paws. I put it down, watched it limp away. It's not death that scares me, that stuns me and fills my head with sound, it's suffering.
I was eight, but I tailed that poor cat into an alley. I picked up a brick and hit it over the head, again and again. Tears dripped down my cheeks and I remember listening to myself curse in anger and sorrow. It seemed like someone else was making those sounds. I didn't stop until the cat's skull was a cracked and pulpy mess, then I threw down the brick and wrapped my arms around myself and cried. That was the first warm, breathing creature I killed.
But this isn't a cat, it's a boy. He's not injured that way, though I guess there are scars in his head that'll take no healing. Maybe, if I get him out of this he'll learn to overcome them, but they will always be there and there's nothing anyone can do about that.
This kid though, he didn't move Mr Hobart. Even if he was free there's not much strength in those arms. That means there's still someone else here.
"Hey," I say to the boy, speaking very softly and slowly. "It's ok. It's ok." I find I'm using the same tone I'd use with a shy animal. "I'm not going to hurt you. Shhh. It's ok."
Blanket, I think. Blanket and something to cut those chains if I can't find a key. I don't want to shoot them apart if I can help it; that would seriously freak him out. He's freaked out? I'm freaked out!
But seeing the boy is kind of sobering. There's nothing anyone can do to me that's worse than what's been done to this kid already. He survived, and what am I complaining about, really. I'm fine.
There are more rooms to explore. I don't care any more what happened to Mr. Hobart. I have other priorities. Whoever did this to this boy, whatever has happened to him, I feel I need to get him out and safe before enacting any kind of revenge on his behalf, even if that's possible. I decide to search for something to cut the chains.