It was even worse being alone.

Kieren heard it was anticipation as the worse type of torture. He never thought about it much until now. His whole body was on edge, tense, waiting for the knife to descend, and it wasn't coming.

If only to fill the empty silence, he started going through his multiplication tables. He said them out loud, going as high as 15x16 before giving up because he didn't know what came after that. From there he recited the quadratic formula, Newton's law, the periodical table, poems, song lyrics, famous speeches, jokes, quotations, and at the moment, he was repeating the dialogue from his favourite film, Jurassic Park.

He got to the part where Samuel Jackson's character said, "Hold onto your butts," when the door suddenly opened.

"Where's Lydia?" Kieren immediately demanded as Alfred walked in. "What did you do to her?"

Alfred ignored him. In his right hand he held a clock, a hammer, a single nail between his fingers, and in his left he held a step ladder.

"Answer me, you fuck!"

Alfred placed the step ladder down, kicking it open with his foot. He positioned it right above where Lydia was chained to the wall. He placed down the clock, stepped up onto the ladder, chose a spot well above his head and started hammering in the nail.

He only needed to strike it four times. He bent down, grabbed the clock, got back up and hooked it on the nail. It hung at an angle.

He tired pushing it straight with his finger a few times, then gave up trying to fix it. he stepped down again, gathered his ladder and the hammer, and without a single glance at Kieren, left the room again.

()

It was fucking worse with the clock.

As unstimulated as Kieren was, in the quietness of the room, he was able to slip into his own mind and play out his favourite films with no problem. It was almost like meditation.

With the clock there, he could not concentrate. His whole focus was on that ticking second hand, every movement like a hammer slamming down upon his head. A whole second felt like a minute, a minute an hour, an hour a day. He tried to ignore it but it was next to impossible.

ticktickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktickticktick-

Without meaning to, he started pulling his arms down, tugging on his wrists against the shackles. As each second pounded into his mind, the tugging continued, with a tiny bit more pressure each time.

There was just enough space for his wrist to rise up about an inch. He brought it down with enough force to tear into his skin, but he couldn't stop, not when that damn ticking was like a fucking jack hammer echoing in his ear-

A sharp, unknown pain suddenly erupted through his arms. He gasped at the familiar but forgotten sensation, and he twisted his head sharply to look at his wrists.

He was bleeding.

It wasn't the black, dead blood which oozed and congealed like thick paste. This was fresh, bright, red blood seeping out the shredded skin of his wrists.

"What the hell..." he muttered in shock. He kept blinking, thinking perhaps he has gone mad. This was a hallucination brought on by fear. This couldn't be real.

The pain was real. Now that he wasn't tugging so hard, the steady threads of ache was still there as tiny streams of blood ran down his arm, staining the cuffs of his jacket.

Holy shit.

Holy shit, holy shit, HOLY SHIT.

The annoyance of the ticking dulled away while the roar of the shock grew louder. How was this possible? Did Alfred mix something in the neurotriptyline?

Kieran's fingers were still an ashy grey, but he swore if he looked harder, his skin appeared a little... pinker.

He wondered...

It was just a little bit of blood, not enough to cause a fuss about. He bled worse during the winter when his dry hands cracked.

Biting the bottom of his lip, Kieren began worrying his wrists against the shackles, forcing himself to bleed more.

"C'mon..." he hissed, throwing glances at the door, half-expecting Alfred to walk through. "C'mon..."

He tugged down his wrists hard, straining, grunting, using his blood as lubricant-

His right arm slipped through first. He nearly punched himself in the face with the force of his pull. He gasped, surprised it actually worked.

He first reached over to the lock, his bloody fingers grabbing at it, seeing if he could pry it open. When it refused to budge, he focused his attention back on his left wrist, tugging it down as hard as he could.

Gritting his teeth, his hand slipped through, nearly taking a whole strip of skin with him.

"AH!" He gasped, clutching his left hand to his chest. That fucking HURT.

Kieren couldn't believe it. He pulled out his hand again, staring at the ugly mess wildly. He was feeling pain.

Compared to the injury, the amount of pain he was receiving was not equal. It should be more pain, stinging and sharp, and there's should be a lot more blood. Whatever what was happening to him had only started.

He shook his head, dispelling his surprise. He couldn't worry about that now. He needed to get out of here, call the police, find Lydia.

Then afterwards, he could freak out.