The man jolted awake. He couldn’t remember when he’d fallen asleep. The car was still moving, which didn’t tell him much about how long he’d been sleeping. On a positive note, he was fairly certain that he wasn’t dead. But he was willing to accept the possibility that he was wrong about that.
He wondered about what exactly he did know.
Ambrose Smith. He knew Ambrose Smith had captured him and locked him up. He remembered Ambrose’s claws. How sharp they were. How they tore his skin.
So much pain.
So much blood.
He remembered Ambrose’s claw hooking into his eye.
A deep darkness on that side. A darkness that still remained.
His hands…crushed. Torn. No hesitation. No regret. No mercy. A very satisfied smirk.
The cell door slammed shut. The memory of that sound jerked him back to the present.
Ambrose said something soft and affectionate to Barbara.
The man haltingly turned his head. He watched Ambrose and wondered about himself.
He tried to remember something about himself outside of his injuries. Even something as simple as his own name. Nothing certain came to mind. He ran through the list of possibilities.
James. Jim. Barry. Jerry. Benny. Benedict. Theodore. Peter, John. Al. Alex. Alexander. Henry. Ralph. Raif. Ralter? Walter. Raleigh. Robert. Alec. Deveroux. David. Steven. Stephen. Guillermo. William. Petrie. Julius. Julian. Roman. Hendrix.
He did a slight head shake. None of those names felt right or sounded right. Yet, he must have had a name at some point.
He looked down at his ruined hands. He focused on his ring finger. Knowledge broke through the dense uncertainty. He had worn a ring.
But the ring was no longer there.
Its absence shattered the numbness encasing him. For the first time in years, tears fell from his intact eye.
Ambrose kissed the side of Barbara’s face and sat back in his seat. He gave his companion an assessing look. The tears falling from the damaged man’s eye caught Ambrose off guard. “There are so many questions and no easy answers.”
The man rubbed his tears with the back of his wrist. He stopped and stared tearfully at his broken, twisted fingers.
Ambrose pushed the man’s index finger all the way back until the joint popped out of place. He leisurely went to work shattering the other joints in that finger.
“No simple solutions. No changing the past. I could make you forget what I’ve done to you.”
The man shot a panicked look at him.
“But forgetting doesn’t change your reality. It doesn’t heal your eye.” Ambrose shook his head. “Doesn’t fix your broken fingers. Doesn’t give you the life you lost.”
Breaking the man’s thumb was a challenge. But that was not a surprise. Thumbs were notoriously difficult to break. Ambrose sighed. “I’ll have to use my thumb cracker. Or I could keep trying to do this manually, just for the challenging fun of it. Decisions, decisions.”
“The life—” He grazed his finger over the man’s vampire mark. “—and death I stole from you.”
The man blanched at Ambrose’s touch.
Ambrose sat back. “I never got a chance to check on you afterwards. Tell me. Did you regain your memories after your change?”
“No.” The man’s voice was quiet and hopeless. “Don’t know…who I am.”