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"Dr. Ben," she whispered into the phone. "William is hurt."
A long pause, then a stern voice, "I'm on my way."
Dr. Ben had always taken care of her and kept her alive for the torture. "She's a hard one to kill," he would say as he dressed her wounds, hooked up make-shift iv's and administered various mysterious medications. Now he would do the same for William Dollar Bill. She had seen the photos, and all the power that had once belonged to Dollar, now belonged to her.
Dollar had shown her the photos from the beginning. Later he had shown her how to access them on his phone. Dr. Ben's inclinations were not the same as Dollar's, but equally as wicked, if not more so. Dollar had a special forum on the dark web where the photos were to be uploaded if he ever went longer than a week without seeing her. It never occurred to him that she could not tell the days apart anymore. A week was a month was a year was a moment to her. It never mattered until now. If Dr. Ben failed her, then she would unravel him in a different way than she had undone her dear sweet Dollar Bill.
"You could be free now, you know," were the first words that Dr. Ben said to her upon his arrival. He held out his preternaturally smooth hand to her, as if offering to pull her from a fire that he himself had kept burning for as long as she could remember.
"I can tell you the code."
The door looked simple and weak, like one strong push could send it flying open on both sides like a pair of saloon doors in an old western film. But it's wooden exterior was hiding a pair of steel reinforced doors that could only be opened by punching in the correct assortment of numbers. She had beaten her fists against it and scratched through the wooden panels on the first night. Dollar had replaced the panels for no better reason than he preferred the look. There was no one to fool anymore after she had shredded through pieces of it. Or maybe those inner demons that he called the Fates had told him it needed to maintain a certain appearance. She could paint it with his blood now if she pleased.
"I know the code," she said flatly.
For a moment, just a flicker of a moment, something in his face changed. It was like ripples of water appeared beneath his skin before going smooth again. She could find her way beneath all that, she was sure. Dr. Ben's face was the texture of old skin whose creases had been refilled and coaxed back into a youthful shape. Yet, he might have been called handsome by the wrong type of people. He pursed his lips at her as though he was trying to hide the expression his mouth wished to make. Then he smiled.
"What did you do to our mutual friend here? This had to happen right here in this room. He couldn't have been injured this way elsewhere and then magicked himself back here again, now could he? He'll die soon. He should already be dead from these injuries. I'm not sure how you managed not to kill him." Dr. Ben fingered the injuries at Dollar's temple and at the base of his skull.
"He's just a head on a stick now, and not much of a head. I suppose what saved him that much is your own state," he said as he gestured at what he perceived to be her own frail physical structure.
Dollar was attempting to open his eyes again and she quickly brushed her fingers upwards against his eyelids in order to hold them open.
"Look at me, Dollar. I have Dr. Ben here to help me take care of you." She kissed each eyelid shut again and looked up at Dr. Ben as she gently caressed Dollar's face.
"He will die like this. There is nothing I can do for him here. I can take him to the hospital now and keep him alive by force for a bit longer. Or I can finish the job for you." He wanted this to be finished.
"My love will keep him alive," she said with an abomination of a smile on her face.
She could feel her lifeline keeping Dollar alive. She tied her soul to his long ago, to keep herself alive, and to destroy him. He had invaded her soul by force and she had taken the opportunity to tie a knot that no one could break. With Dr. Ben's help, Dollar Bill would live and suffer, and his pain would be his salvation. His Fates were not imbalances of a mentally ill mind, but the urging songs of demons that he had enjoyed indulging. She made his inner demons into her hellhounds and put them on a leash.
"I'll leave these choices to you," Dr. Ben said as he eyed the phone in her hands, "but I need to know your intentions, my dear."
"You could easily kill me now and be done with it," she said. He acknowledged her with curiosity.
"No, I'm not sure that I could," he finally responded. It did not take much more effort for her to compel him to keep Dollar alive. He would visit as often as needed, within reason, to take care of medical necessities. He would bring her whatever she required for her own needs and desires. He was quite sure that Dollar would die soon enough, even with medical treatment, and that she would wish to go upstairs and find the world again on the other side of the faux wooden doors.
For weeks, she dedicated herself to using Dollar's tools. She lovingly glided a sharp blade along the outline of his body, where he could not feel, and along the angles of his face, where he could still feel. His eyes were more full of life than would have been possible with anyone else in his condition. They were more alive than they had looked even when had glided that same blade against her skin while he smiled down at her. It was like hellfire danced in his eyes, strengthening her belief that she was cleansing him. She very neatly traced the outline of his lips, taking care to maintain the shape of his cupid's bow, then she kissed him passionately with her own. He did not scream as much as she had hoped, but the sounds of tortured pain were enough to keep both of their hearts warm.
Painting the doors in his blood proved to be challenging. She requested paintbrushes from Dr. Ben when she discovered that her own hands did not absorb blood well enough to effectively transfer it to the entirety of the door's surface. A sponge had also proved helpful. Dr. Ben taught her to keep his wounds clean and dressed, much as Dollar had done for her for so long. He had a strong stomach for the smell of blood that constantly filled the air, but the smell of other fluids and solids that emitted from Dollar had challenged him.
"It shouldn't bother a doctor, especially one with your sort of habits," she said to him one night as he wretched into her toilet basin.
"I keep my ladies very clean," he stated after recovering.
"They aren't ladies. They're children," she replied, remembering some of the images that she had seen on Dollar's phone.
Dr. Ben disregarded response.
"What more can you possibly do to him?" He said instead.
"Bring me another. I'm ready to go upstairs."
"Another one of your circle of friends. Bring him to this house. I'll greet him upstairs."
"This was not part of our agreement, and I think you'll find that when you go upstairs, you won't want to be part of this home anymore."
"My name is etched in blood throughout this house. It is mine." Dollar groaned at her last statement and she heard the words, "angel, no" gurgle out.
He had not spoken any discernible words since the night she remade him, but she had felt the pull of their intertwined souls. Dollar did not want her to go upstairs, but he was hiding why. She searched within him to find his reasons, but everything was becoming too muddy for her to read clearly. He was dying, agonizingly.
"Bring him to this house. I'll greet him upstairs," she said again.
Within a few days, Dr. Ben came to her again. He had forgotten to refill some of the lines of his face, she could tell, or had formed new ones. But he looked pleased as he reached his hand out to her, again as if offering to pull her from the fire. She could sense that taking his hand would only mean being guided into something far worse. She walked past him, towards the door. He regarded her with suspicion as she reached towards the panel of numbers in front of her. Behind her, Dollar was making horrendous gurgling noises that she did not know could be made by a living thing. She tapped in the numbers, and the gurgling stopped. Something lurched within her stomach and she vomited violently onto the floor in front of the now unlatched door. She felt as though white hot lights had flipped a switch inside her and were trying to break through her flesh. She stood up anyway, through the pain. A horrible ache had formed in her heart, like someone was holding onto it tightly. The lights inside her switched off suddenly, and the ache subsided, replaced with emptiness as she turned the knob and walked through the bloodstained doors.