“Never mind the screams. You’ll get used to them after a while,” the dark one shouts over a chorus of desperate pleas. He slaps the cold basement wall with a gloved hand. “These walls don’t hold sound like they used to.”
Nickolas clears his throat, eyes falling to a gummy mess of slime on the floor. “So, uh, after I get the prisoner checked in and stowed away, what next?”
“Oh right. Well I usually take a seat in the back and read a book. The thing is that there isn’t much you can do once the main job is complete.”
Their footsteps echo down a narrow hallway, with doors to various torture chambers lining the sides of the cramped corridor. With the dim lights and musty air, the place closely resembled a mortuary sentencing its residents to a lifetime of agony and blackness. Nickolas could get used to this.
The dark one continues, “My previous apprentice, Blaine, used to creep into the chambers so he could play with captives when he got bored. Even though I don’t believe you’re that kind of guy, I’d advise you to control any…” he spits, “urges you have.”
Nickolas’ heart nearly jumps out of his chest. For years he turned his sadistic habits upon ragged runaways he picked up from the interstate, and to finally have an outlet to direct his hatred – well, nothing can beat that. “Oh, you don’t have to worry about anything like that, sir,” he lies. Ideas of what he would do to a taut, resisting body send a shiver down his back. “I can’t wait to get to work.”
The two enter the door at the end of the hall, revealing a large room filled with random junk; old, toppled televisions, broken sofas, crushed Diet Pepsi cans, and dusty boxes fill the area. In the place of a once great window is an ugly nautical painting.
“Aren’t we underground?” Nickolas asks, pointing at the empty window frame. “What was that for?”
The dark one chuckles, resting his heavy hands on the apprentice’s shoulders. “Fifty or so years ago, we’d be looking out into a beautiful forest; we could even see the mountains in the distance. But Vladimir had the building restructured and sculpted the landscape to form a place more inconspicuous. At the time, he had no idea the success of his plan, but he was always forward-looking. And in the end he was right to bury the first four floors of the old castle.”
Noticing a plastic crown in one of the boxes, Nickolas mutters, “Castle? So he was like a king, then? And with his death, he passed it all onto you.”
“According to that way of thinking, yes, I suppose you’re right.” He nestles the crown onto Nickolas’s head. “And I guess that makes you the king now, starting tonight.” The old man’s hot whispers tickle the apprentice’s ear drum.
A conniving smirk sweeps Nickolas’s face as he imagines his first actions as the new dark one. The terror he will wreak on the land will surmount all past travesties, and he’ll be immortalized through his evil deeds. But there was still one thing that was eating away at him: “What ever happened to Blaine? I know he the apprentice before me.”
“Blaine let the darkness consume him; his lust for inflicting pain on others led to his undoing.”
The dark one shrugs. “Eh, somewhat – he contracted HIV from one of the slaves during a distasteful orgy he orchestrated. Aren’t you glad you’ve got enough sense to not take part in any of that stupid shit?”
Suddenly, being the new dark one isn’t so appealing to Nickolas.
“Of course,” he mumbles. “That’s just absurdity.”