"Why are we going, again?"
"I'm not really sure myself. Cartman only said that it was something we had to see. Do you still have it?"
"Yeah. I do. Why us, though? Why not Kenny, too?"
"He probably just couldn't find him. Maybe he's dead right now, or something. Regardless, I think we're getting closer."
"We should've brought two, dude."
"And where were we gonna get two from? It was hard enough obtaining one."
"I just… don't think that this is a good place for us to be. For anyone to be, really. How the hell did Cartman find it?"
"Dude, do you really think I want to think about that? I don't know! He just said that it was something we had to see."
"I know, I know. I'm the last one to be listening to Cartman. But damnit, I'm curious."
"I am, too. But don't you think that there's a reason as to why he wouldn't just tell us what it is?"
"'Mere words cannot describe it, you guys. They don't allow you to fathom how incredibly awesome it is.'"
"Hey, if Cartman can survive out here with no problem, I'm sure we can, easy."
The conversation halted as the two boys reached a steeper climb and were forced to save their breath. They were hiking up a trail in the mountains. It was a bright, sunny day; however, still just as cold as ever. That was a fact of life in South Park and its surrounding areas that would never change.
The boys, only eleven years old, were in well-enough physical shape to be able to make the exhausting hike. However, considering how tired they were getting, they wondered how their fat friend had been able to stumble upon what he had described as nothing more than a "totally sweet abandoned cabin." What was even more puzzling was how quickly he had been able to find it. Cartman was the antithesis of physically fit, yet somehow, he had been able to go out into the uncharted wilderness of the mountains surrounding South Park, hike through impossible trails, find some kind of structure, and make it back down and in his home town throughout the course of one day.
It was Stan and Kyle's second day already, and no doubt people would be questioning where they were. They hadn't factored in the possibility that maybe Cartman just had sheer dumb luck. It was much more likely, however, that Cartman was just incredibly reckless, whereas the two best friends took a more cautious and reasonable approach. Although one would be required to define "reasonable" here, because skipping their homes and school just to go out backpacking into strange wilderness only to see what their friend (one known for being a complete and total asshole who would do most anything to benefit himself and only himself, including the form of a cheap laugh) claimed to be "totally awesome" certainly does not fit the standard definition. It's better filed under "ludicrous."
But for some reason, they were completely fascinated by what this prospect could be, and so they had set out almost immediately. Bringing a gun along for protection had been an afterthought. However, gaining possession of one had proved to be more difficult than imagined, and after the lengths Stan had gone through to get one, he hadn't even been able to retrieve something stronger. Nothing more than a handgun. Sure, it would be easy to ward off a fellow human being with it, but this region was completely uncivilized. It was totally natural, and while a handgun may easily scare smaller animals, that's something that could be done without it as well. Larger ones would hardly be affected.
They also never considered the fact that two boys – both known to be intelligent, rational, and collected, but not without their great bursts of anger – going missing for a few days into strange wilderness with a gun was very suspicious behaviour.
But they treaded on, regardless of all the threats. Both were having serious regrets by now. Seeming to know that they were on the same page in their thoughts, Kyle, who was in the lead, breathed out, "But hey, we've come this far."
To the right, the mountain rose up sharply. It was snow-covered and rocky: a stinging combination any way you look at it, considering how cold snow is and how sharp rocks can be. To the left, a dizzying and terrifying drop could be seen. At the bottom was a mess of trees in forest, with, not surprisingly, snow covering the pine branches, as well as the bits of ground visible between the trees. The bits of ground visible were small in area. The only way to move was forwards, and the path they were on was very narrow and bumpy. Not exactly the best location to be in.
"Far" was the last word spoken between the two for another few minutes, until the top of the slope was reached. Kyle scrambled up onto the shelf of flat land jutting out from the mountain before assisting Stan up there as well. The two almost immediately collapsed, taking in deep breaths of air and squinting their eyes at the extreme amount of sunlight.
Stan was the first to rise to his feet again, but he only ended up bending over and resting his gloved hands on his knees. "Dude, I don't care how amazing it is," he breathed out. "I am not going any higher than this. Cartman can go blow himself." Kyle simply nodded in agreement, bringing a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun, and the other to clutch his burning throat.
"Wait, dude!" he cried out. "I think it's there! Yeah, yeah, that's gotta be it. Cartman was telling the truth!"
"What?" Stan asked, dropping down to Kyle's level and looking out in the direction he was. "What is it?"
This time Kyle rose. "Yeah, I can see it, right over there. It's a cabin. That's gotta be what Cartman was talking about, dude. It's gotta. We made it!" He gave a small fist pump of accomplishment. "We did it, dude!"
Stan let out a triumphant laugh, jumping to his feet only to slip and fall back down on his butt right away. "Yes!" he cried out. "We made it! We made it and I think my legs are going to snap off!"
"Woohoo!" Kyle shouted out in agreement, pausing to hear his voice echo. He then dropped down, and panted out, "So, we gonna go inside, or what?"
"Gimme a minute, dude. I can hardly breathe here."
"Oh yeah, that's right," Kyle shrugged in response. "The asthma. Yeah. I'm sure we can wait a few."
Upon regaining his breath, Stan hoisted himself up from his sitting position, and then pulled Kyle up. The two made their way over to the cabin's front. The closer they got to it, though, the more they could smell a great stench. Kyle pulled his jacket over his nose, while Stan attempted to tough it out. The smell became overwhelming, and Kyle nearly fainted at one point, but Stan continued onwards, a blind fascination pulling him forwards.
The details on the outside became more visible as they approached. It wasn't just smell that was disgusting their senses, but soon sight as well. Kyle's eyes roved over the structure, taking it all in. The wood was as you'd expect, frozen rock hard solid, but there was another quality to it that made the Jewish boy turn away for a brief moment. He wasn't sure what it was. Stan pointed it out to him.
"Dude," he whispered, in some kind of a fascinated trance, "the walls. They're all… They're all broken down, and, like, decaying. But that doesn't make any sense…"
"It's not natural," Kyle said, coming up from behind him. "Stan, I don't like this. I'm going to be sick. Aren't you feeling nauseated at all? Come on, dude, let's go home."
Stan pushed Kyle to the side. "No way, dude," he breathed out. "We came all this way. I'm going to see what it's like inside, damnit. There has to be more to this place to get Cartman so worked up about it." He slowly placed his hand on the front door knob. "Are you coming or not?"
Without waiting for an answer, Stan turned the knob and stepped inside. Kyle remained outdoors a bit longer. The smell was already making him feel incredibly nauseous, and the fact that wood could have been decaying in freezing temperatures disturbed him. He stayed outside a few minutes more, shivering in the cold, but upon not hearing any response from Stan whatsoever, he decided to see if he was all right. And while he was at it, to look around the interior.
Taking a deep breath, Kyle stepped in behind Stan, to find his best friend slowly turning his head, as if he were in an amphitheatre, gazing at everything there was to see in a stunned silence. Kyle slowly looked up.
It was dark, and the smell was so strong that Kyle was certain his organs would burst from the stink alone. He saw faint strings that were, what he could only assume to be, the remains of some pathetic cobwebs. He saw bits of organs that actually had burst, and strips of skin lying around. They were covering the walls, which were rounded and bumpy, and the bits of wooden furniture in there. An elegantly carved desk was in the back, with a simple wooden chair behind it. Bits of brain covered both. Whether it was still three-dimensional goo or nothing more than a stain now, it was there, and it was everywhere else. Blood covered everything, but it had been there so long that it was fading out now. There were tables and other chairs strewn about, each covered in some kind of sickly substance or other, ranging from dark red to light pink. It was disgustingly humid. Kyle collapsed.
Stan would have to kick himself for it later, but for now, he was too amazed by it all. Forgetting about his best friend's existence, he stepped into the cabin and slowly ran his hand over whatever there was to touch. His fingers nearly delicately caressed the walls as he felt them. They were covered in little bumps, parts were soft to the touch, and it was all stained. There were more than blood and gut stains, though. Stan caught the whiff of alcohol from somewhere. He ignored it.
He was dazed. It felt like he was in a dream-like state. Everything he touched felt so surreal to him. Stan felt his grip on the small gun he had slipping. He couldn't see into the back corners; they were too dark. He wanted to see into the back corners. Along the way he passed bits and pieces of humans. Half a hand here, some stomach flab there, a neck and shoulder with bone protruding staring him in the face. A burst heart and a pool of blood surrounding it all, but faded. His eyes widened slightly, out of mild shock, but he continued walking the area of the cabin, regardless. Old papers scattered the floor as well.
The far corners were disappointingly empty, but Stan felt too overwhelmed at this point, and so he sat down in one. His eyes casually skimmed over the interior of the building once again, taking in all of the macabre and death. He somewhat noted that no part of the body above the neck (aside from the bits of brain, and the eyeball resting at his right foot) was present in there. Except for Kyle's, but he was still alive, at least.
Stan rose to his feet once again, but suddenly felt light-headed. He took in a deep breath of air, forgetting where he was, and finally the smell got to him. His cheeks suddenly puffing out and eyes suddenly widening, Stan hurriedly covered his mouth with his hands and dashed out through the open doorway, slipping as he scrambled to get the hell out of there and falling on his knees, scratching them up a bit, and thrusting his hands down forwards to catch himself from falling on his face, and then finally puking. He remained in that position for a while longer, dry heaving and retching. When he was done, he remained in the same position, sweating and panting heavily.
Kyle, meanwhile, was still just inside the cabin's entrance. He started to come around, and slowly raised his head and opened his eyes. The view that met him reminded him of where he was, which, in turn, further scared the shit out of him, and so he scrambled back madly on his hands and knees. He bumped into Stan, who fell face-forward into his own pile of vomit.
Rising up from the crap, Stan's first instinct was to wipe the puke off with his hands, and his second instinct was to wipe his hands off on his pants. He did both, and spun around to stare at Kyle all at pretty much the same time. This sudden movement further freaked Kyle out, and he toppled over, backwards, into the snow.
"Dude, what the hell!" Stan cried out at his best friend. The smell of his own vomit so close to his nose caused him to vomit again. Kyle scrambled backwards.
"Gross, Stan!" he cried out, making a point of isolating himself in the snow, which, while cold, was, at the very least, clean. "Sick!"
Stan sat there a while, leaning forwards and choking on his own breath, before he was able to speak up again. "Dude, what the fuck was that for?"
"Wh—what?" Kyle asked, cocking his head. "What was what for?"
"Knocking me into my own puke, dumbass!"
"That wasn't my fault!" Kyle cried out. "I—That place creeps me out, dude! What the hell were you doing there?"
"I—" Stan stopped to pause and think. "I, I don't know, dude. I—"
Kyle interrupted him to start off on his own rant. "Goddamnit, fatass! What the fuck is so awesome about a bunch of human remains? Jesus christ, sick! I can't believe that I came all this way just to find that! What a waste of time! It makes sense that fatty would be so into something like that, too, doesn't it? Christ, knowing him he loves it because he thinks that it's part of some Holocaust site that got dragged out here. But that is just disgusting! It's nothing short of repulsive! Jesus christ, I should have known better!"
Stan paused and blinked. Once Kyle had quieted down, he started up again. "I dunno, but… There was just something about it, dude. Like that wasn't the whole scene. Like there was more to it."
"I don't want to know anything else about it. I just. Want. Home."
"No way, dude!" Stan cried out. "I want to—there's more to it, I know it! And I wanna know it, too! I wanna know all of the specific little details and everything!"
"Stan, it was a death house—"
"I'm perfectly aware of that, Kyle."
"But don't you think it's a little dangerous?"
"Did it look like anybody was there?"
"Who's to say nobody was?" Kyle shot back, glancing at the cabin from over his shoulder. "That's not natural, dude. No way is that fucking possible."
Stan sighed. "Why do things always have to make sense, Kyle?"
Kyle grated his teeth and clenched his fists in frustration. "It's illogical!" he shouted out. "Everything in there should be frozen! Or have you not noticed how fucking cold it is out here? For a building with no modern equipment at all, and the only new things in there are intestines wrapped around a leg soaked in blood, things should not be the way they are. Definitely not."
Stan simply shrugged. "I dunno, something about it just really got to me. I'm not sure why. It's so creepy but it's so… intriguing."
"You're not going back in there, are you?" Kyle asked, staring at his best friend with fear in his eyes. "I don't think that's a good idea at all dude. We should get the fuck home. Right away. Even if it is abandoned, it's some really bad shit over there…"
"So?" Stan demanded. "You're the one who took this whole thing to heart in the first place! You wanted to see it so bad, and now that you know what it is, suddenly you want to leave?" he cried out, throwing his arms out. "No! It doesn't work that way, Kyle! You start something with such vigour, you stick through with it to the end!"
Kyle stared at his best friend, baffled that he would be arguing such a case. "What? No! Not when it's something like this!" he exclaimed, throwing his own arms to his sides. "People obviously died there, Stan! And aside from the fact that the whole thing about that cabin being up here in this location doesn't make any sense at all, it's just… not something you do!"
Stan snorted. "Right. We come up all this way for one quick little look and then we turn back home, with our tails between our legs. Genius, Kyle."
"Well I didn't know what the fuck to expect!" Kyle retorted. "It's Cartman! You never know what to expect with him! But dude, that place is just plain fucking creepy. We're going home. Now."
Crossing his arms, Stan replied, "No, you're going home, if you don't want to brave it out and find out what happened there. But I do. So I'm gonna stay. I'm gonna stay and at least try to figure out what the hell happened here."
Kyle's expression immediately softened upon hearing those words. "No, dude, don't. It's… it's gotta be dangerous. The smell was so strong and some of it is still fresh. Stan, please… don't, just don't. Curiosity killed the cat. I don't want you killed."
"I won't get killed."
Kyle stared at his best friend for a moment, uncertain. He knew that it was totally ludicrous to actually think about leaving him there, but if Stan was going to be stubborn – something Kyle could easily foretell here – then there wouldn't really be anything that he could do to change his mind. So the younger of the two turned around, and took a few steps forward to head back down the mountain, before almost immediately shaking his head and spinning back around to face Stan again.
"No way, dude," he spoke up, and grabbed Stan's shoulder with his gloved right hand. "What's wrong with you? You aren't this retarded, ever. Besides, we really should be sticking together. It's dangerous—"
But Stan pulled away and hugged himself instead, keeping his back towards Kyle. "Dude, I've got a gun. I'll be fine. If you want to stick together, then you'll have to stay up here with me until I'm done."
"What? No!" Kyle yelled, shock very evident in his voice. "I'm not going to do that, and I'm not going to let you, either! Come on!" he cried out, and grabbed Stan's wrist. He tugged and pulled his arm out, and then started taking some steps backwards, trying to get Stan to come down the mountain. This caught Stan off-guard, and since the two were of similar strength, Kyle managed to get him down near the path that they had climbed up at first before the older got his wits about him and pulled forwards. The two were stuck at a standstill, each trying to go opposite ways but the other not letting him. Meanwhile, they were just above the narrow, steep path that they had initially climbed up.
Something had to break eventually, and that something was actually two somethings. They were both Stan and Kyle's grips, and the resulting action was both of them falling. Kyle, since he was trying to bring Stan back with him, fell backwards; while Stan fell forwards, face down into the snow.
Stan was safe enough where he was, but Kyle fell back onto the steep, narrow path that they had first climbed up. And he didn't do a good job of staying there, either, mostly because it was much too narrow, and the inner side – the part with the mountain right next to it – was sharp and pointy. The sharpness of the rocks caused Kyle, in his bit of conscious movement while falling, to move away from there, not wanting to get struck by them. But there was no where else on the path to go, and so, from the great height he was at, he fell off over the edge.
Stan immediately forgot about his wishes to further explore the cabin, as if snapped out of a daze, as if what he required for this to happen was for his best friend to fall off of a cliff. "Kyle!" he cried out, and without a second thought, hurled himself off of the mountaintop after his best friend. He soon realized that it was not a very smart idea.
Both boys tumbled through snow, cried out in pain as the sharp rocks picked, prodded, hit, cut, and struck them, and groaned and moaned as they both thought of how stupid their previous actions had been, for if they hadn't done them, they wouldn't be rolling down a mountain right now. With each bounce and fall both boys got further bloodied and bruised, but both Stan and Kyle at least had enough instincts to tuck their heads into their chests, to avoid getting damaged there.
Kyle was the first to reach the bottom, having gotten a couple of seconds' head start on Stan. Luckily, the snow at the foot of the mountain was quite a bit softer, and Kyle wasn't hurt so badly that he couldn't think clearly, or even stand up, which is just what he did. Using his arm as support, he pushed himself off of the ground just as Stan came tumbling down. Finding it incredible to still be alive, Kyle decided not to focus on that for too long. Instead, he looked around at his surroundings.
With the mountain looming up behind him, it was only natural to assume that the two were now in a valley. There were some evergreens littered about, but for the most part, it was all ground, and the ground was covered only by snow. But the snow had other tracks in it, so Kyle looked up with a wary eye, and found himself gazing right into the eyes of a bear.
The bear noticed Kyle, too, and it reared up on its hind legs and lumbered towards him. Kyle slowly backed away, cursing himself mentally for looking directly at the great, furry creature approaching him. It wasn't really his fault, but if the two hadn't locked eyes (even though it was only for a brief period of time, because once Kyle had seen the other set of eyes he had turned his stare away immediately), this wouldn't have been happening. He hadn't just fallen down a mountain to suddenly meet his doom now through a stupid mistake with a bear.
Just as the bear was nearing, Stan regained consciousness. He groggily raised his head from where it was buried in the snow, just to have his own undamned eyes meet the site before him. And just as they had before, his mind and body both worked against him in a rash decision powered only by sheer friendship. He leaped up and right in front of the terrified Kyle just as the bear swung its great paw down.
Within the next few seconds Stan could only dumbly stand still. He gazed ahead, unmoving, his eyes empty and without focus from the sheer stinging pain. Kyle, who had a better understanding of what had happened than Stan, shouted out to his best friend, "Stan! Just tear it off and let it have it! Now!"
Stan, by no real free will – or thought – of his own, did exactly what Kyle told him to do. He ripped off his left shoulder, and arm with it, which had been hanging by only a mere thread from the bear's strike, and threw it out at the bear. The great beast looked over the boys before turning around and going for the arm. Kyle stared at its retreating figure. "Shit," he muttered under his breath, "it'll be back soon. It'll definitely find the smell of blood; it knows we can't go far. And even if we do move, we'll leave such an obvious trail…"
It was while Kyle was quietly musing to himself over what to do for both of their safeties that the full force of what had just occurred hit Stan, and so he fell to his knees. The blood gushed from his upper left torso: right where his arm, and shoulder, would have been, if he hadn't stupidly thrown himself in the bear's path and gotten himself mutilated. The snow was quickly stained red and the liquid oozed out of the gigantic wound – the one that spelled easy doom for the both of them.
Kyle knew that Stan wouldn't be able to move. He was losing blood at an alarming rate, and after having just fallen down a mountain, too – plus he would have to deal with the sudden lack of weight of where his arm had once been, and that would throw him off balance as well. And Kyle knew very well that he couldn't just leave Stan and make a break for it himself. He wouldn't be able to live with himself afterwards, especially since Stan had just sacrificed his arm to save Kyle's life. Leaving was out of the question, but so was staying.
Stan bit his lip and desperately tried to stop the blood flow from where his shoulder had once been by grasping it with his right hand. He knew this action was in complete vain, but he was in incredible pain, and just wanted it to stop, so he did anything that he could think of. Had he had any more contents left in his stomach, he would have thrown up again by now. Instead, Stan just held back his tears as long as he could, choking on his own breath.
Kyle came up to his best friend and kneeled down beside him. He took off his coat and, ignoring the cold, attempted to wrap it around Stan's wound in hopes to stop the blood flow. Naturally, it didn't work, and the material was stained and bled through immediately. Still, Kyle tried, and this was when Stan lost it and let his tears of pain flow. Kyle's eyes, too, started to water, but he knew that he had to keep a reasonable head about him, or else they would have even less hope than the meager scraps that they had now.
"Stan," Kyle said softly, hugging his best friend and trying to help him cope with the pain in ways that he knew would not work, but he still tried anyway. "Stan, we can't stay here. That bear will be back and it'll be the end of the both of us. But… we can't leave either. You probably couldn't even stand up, and even if you could, you'd leave a trail of blood, and we wouldn't be able to go fast enough—"
"Go without me," Stan sniffed. Kyle stared at him in shock.
The blue-eyed boy turned to his best friend, his eyes turning red and puffy from the crying already. His cheeks were tear-stained and he looked the perfect picture of misery, his eyes saying almost as much as his sudden lack of arm. "Dude, I'm done for. You're not. Save yourself," Stan said again, pleading. But Kyle wouldn't listen to it.
"What? Fuck no! Dude, you just—I—I'm not going to just leave you after that! No! We're in this together. I will not leave you. Ever," Kyle responded, staring back at Stan with harder, more determined eyes. Feeling too light-headed and weak to argue, Stan simply nodded and sighed.
Silence fell over the two boys, and it got progressively colder as the afternoon started fading away into evening. Kyle, no longer with a coat, was shivering, but he continued to cling to Stan. By now they were both sitting in a pool of blood, and Stan's eyelids were feeling heavy. They were overtaking his eyes bit by bit, as his head drooped forwards and his black hair fell in his face. But still, despite all of the pain and blood loss, he had not yet lost consciousness. And so the two only had the comfort of each other as they awaited certain death.
The minutes all melted together as the two sat there together. Kyle was clinging to Stan for dear life, rather literally, as Stan did provide some body heat and, disgusting as it was, his blood was still warm. Still, Kyle shivered. Trying to take his mind off of the cold, and off of the damning mess they were both in, he stared up at the sky. It had been a soft blue when they had first reached the cabin, but it was starting to darken now, and take on a redder tone. Kyle shuddered at the colour, wondering if he could ever look at it again. But then, he remembered, his chances of being able to look at anything again were pretty damn slim. He sighed and violently turned his head downwards.
He felt a tingling sensation in his fingers, and, pulling one of his gloves off, he let out a gasp to see the tips slowly turning black. He replaced the glove immediately and curled himself into a ball, and pressed himself further against Stan. In the bits of consciousness his best friend had left, Stan wanted to hold Kyle close to him (as well as he could with one arm), but he only had the strength to turn his line of sight directly at his best friend.
"We're so fucked," he mouthed, and Kyle nodded.
They both stared forwards for a moment longer, until a sudden new sound came to their ears. From up above, a whirring sound was audible. Stan didn't have the strength to crane his neck upwards and look, as he was still bleeding, but Kyle could and he did. He gasped again, only this time, it was a much sharper breath intake. His mind vaguely comprehended what this could mean for them.
"Stan!" he cried out quietly, but he received no form of acknowledgement. Kyle expected this, though, and assumed that Stan was still listening to him. "Dude! It's a helicopter!"
Stan merely blinked in response. "That's… not possible," he said, attempting to look upwards. "No fucking way." His speech slurred slightly and his head fell even further into his chest from exhaustion.
"No, it is—" Kyle insisted, but was cut off as the machine landed right by them. Stan flicked his hooded eyes upwards and Kyle gazed in sheer wonder as a man stepped out. The two watched him as he called back to someone else in the machine in a language neither boy could understand, and then came towards them. Kyle's mind started racing, and he decided to quickly hiss his thoughts out to his friend.
"This might just be our chance," he said. "But then again, we don't know him, and I don't think he speaks English. So this could be a bad idea to begin with…"
"What choice do we have?" Stan snapped back as well as he could. "It's either take our chances with this guy, who might just be really, really nice, or die out here from cold, blood loss, or getting eaten by a bear. What do you want to do, assuming we had the ability to actually choose, retard?"
Kyle shrugged. "I just have a really, really bad feeling," he muttered.
"We don't have a choice, dude," Stan muttered back. By now, the strange man had approached them. He was dressed in very warm and cozy-looking winter clothing that made Kyle exceedingly envious as he shivered again.
The man stooped down in front of the two eleven-year-olds, and said something else, but neither Stan nor Kyle could understand it. He tried saying a few more things, but after only being met by confused blinks, he smiled and nodded in satisfaction. Then, carefully picking both of the boys up, he took the two back to the helicopter and set them down inside.
There was another man in the helicopter, as well, and he closed its door once his companion had returned. The second man returned to his seat and started to fly the manmade vehicle, while the first man took a look at Stan, who was still bleeding. Untying Kyle's blood-soaked coat and throwing it aside with contempt, he took out some fresh bandages, and removed Stan's jacket and shirt before applying them. While the bleeding had not yet stopped, these new bandages did a much better job of reducing the blood flow, and Stan instantly felt better. He finally lost his consciousness and collapsed.
Understanding that these people meant to help them, Kyle pulled off both of his gloves and showed his blackened fingertips to the man. He caught on immediately, and started treating the frostbite by taking some ripped-up cloth he had and wrapping it around Kyle's fingers. As an extra precaution, he also grabbed a blanket and wrapped it around Kyle. This was when Kyle decided to talk.
"Thank you," he breathed out in great relief. "Thank you so much. We owe you our lives… thank you…" he stopped after that point, for the man did nothing more than look at him in sheer confusion. That was when it became fully evident to both parties that they did not speak the other's language and communication would have to rely on universal symbols. The man did just that, gently raising his index finger to his lips. Kyle understood and lied down on the helicopter's floor, next to Stan, and he soon fell asleep, grateful for the heating inside the vehicle. The man's partner continued to fly it upwards.
After a few hours, Kyle's eyes started to open. He blinked a few times as he lay on the cold, hard floor before actually sitting up. Neither of the two men sitting at the front and piloting the helicopter noticed his awakening, but even if they had, Kyle wouldn't have been able to talk with them, so he looked out the window. He noticed that they were still ascending, but at a much slower rate now. But Kyle had just spent two days hiking up a mountain, so he was able to recognize a bit of it: It was the same one he and Stan had climbed up that they were ascending near to.
Without a second thought, Kyle shook Stan. The older boy's eyes opened, but they were clouded over from sleep for a minute or two until he was completely awake and focused. His wound still stung, and he tried to move his left arm, feeling it there even when it wasn't. So he settled for the next best thing and pushed his right arm against the floor, raising his upper body. He felt much stronger now, but he was still in great pain.
"What is it, Kyle?" he slowly asked, and just as he did, the helicopter landed. Kyle helped his best friend over to the window, where both saw the cabin that they had just been in. Stan stared blankly at it. "What are we doing back up here?"
Kyle merely gawked. "I… I don't know, dude, but I really, really don't like this now."
"Dude, these guys just saved us. They aren't going to hurt us. I'm sure things'll be fine, and you're just overreacting."
"Dude! Stan!" Kyle hissed back at his best friend. "We were in there before! It's not safe!" he cried out. Stan would have pushed a finger to his friend's lips to keep him silent, if it hadn't meant that he would fall over as a result.
"Kyle!" he hissed in return. "These people just saved our lives, don't go offending them!"
"It's okay, dude. They don't understand English." Kyle shook his head. "But that also means that they won't understand our questions, and they won't know where we come from, and they won't know what we want and they won't be able to bring us back home. This is bad news, Stan."
Stan shrugged. "Better than being dead. We don't have any other choice, Kyle. They've been nice to us so far."
Kyle opened his mouth to say something in return, but was left hanging as both men stood up from their seats and turned to face their passengers. One said something to the other, and the other nodded while the first looked out the window. Both of the boys were then given more blankets. Through physical actions, they were instructed to cover their bodies with them, and they did. Then the door to the helicopter was opened and one of the men stepped out, instructing Stan and Kyle to follow him. They did, Kyle supporting Stan, but they were nearly knocked over by a strong gust of wind.
The wind bit into them and they were suddenly a lot more grateful for the blankets they had been given. It was a stinging cold pain. They gradually became aware that it was nighttime, now, as the sky was blackened, but clear. The stars clearly shone through. It was a nice night, but it would have been nicer if they had been back at home, fully intact, and not about to enter a cabin filled with former human remains.
But they were ushered in anyway. Stan looked around him once again, feeling much more nauseated this time than during his first. He noticed a torso with only one arm attached to it and shuddered, still feeling his left arm even when it was no longer there. He found himself starting to agree with Kyle, and his thoughts turned to those of great worry and anxiety. He wondered how the hell both he and his best friend were supposed to get back home, and what would become of them. Because the men seemed very nice… But they took them both here. They brought two eleven-year-old boys to a death house. Stan squeezed his eyes tightly shut and relied on Kyle for guidance.
Kyle had taken to breathing only through his mouth. He kept his gaze focused straight ahead, at the back of one of the men who had rescued them, and refused to look around the cabin again. He found himself unable to think; and in fact, he didn't want to. All of his concentration was instead poured into helping the weakened Stan, who was still bleeding slightly.
The man in the lead pulled the desk that was at the back of the room out of the way, and a set of stairs was revealed. They lead downwards. They were blood-spattered, but the further they went down them, the cleaner and more sterilized they got. Stan and Kyle followed the stranger into this newly revealed area of the cabin, with the other man still behind them. Unable to smell anything anymore, Stan opened his eyes, and took in the sight around him.
The whole place was white and clean. There were more men, like the first two, down there as well. The first two men shed their heavy clothing as another man approached them, and a conversation ensued. Stan and Kyle both listened in, even though they were unable to understand any of it.
The men dispersed, and one of them came back to the boys. He led them through another passageway, and into another clean, white room. He held up his index finger, indicating for them to wait there, so Stan and Kyle both sat down. Alone in the room, they had a better chance to converse with one another.
"I don't get it," Kyle started off. "It's so clean down here, and these people are being so nice. So what the fuck is up with the entrance?"
"Maybe it's to scare people off?" Stan suggested, shrugging as well as he could.
Kyle's eyebrows furrowed. "That's fucking stupid, dude. This place is on top of a remote mountain. Who the hell is going to come up here to begin with?"
"Well, we did," Stan pointed out, "and so did Cartman."
At the mention of that name, Kyle clenched his fists in anger. "That fucking asshole!" he shouted. His voice echoed around the room, and Stan glared at him, so Kyle continued in a more restrained tone. "Dude – it's his fucking fault that we're in this mess! Honestly, what the fuck are our chances of returning home? And look at you! I mean… It's like…"
Stan sighed and slumped down. "I—I know," he said, glancing at where his left shoulder should have been. "Trust me, dude, I hate him too, but there are more important things to worry about here. We have to figure out what we're gonna do here first, and then we can kill Cartman."
"We should cut him up and toss his remains in the entrance," Kyle muttered. "Him alive is enough to scare anybody off. Fucking bastard." He folded his arms across his chest and blew out of his mouth. "I—fuck. Just fuck," was all he could really say. All Stan could do was nod.
Both boys sat there in silence, slumped up against a pure white wall and sitting on a pure white floor, for the room was completely empty. Their thoughts were on relatively the same page. They were both feeling depressed and worried, but the biggest emotions were fear and confusion. Neither knew what was going on, what to expect, and neither could hope to know, because they didn't speak the same language as their saviours.
Presently, one came in. His eyes drifted over to Stan's injury, and he moved towards it. He changed the bandage, replacing the temporary one with a stronger, sturdier one, and at last, the blood flow ceased to a mere trickle and then stopped all together. The man exited the room and reentered shortly, caring two hot bowls of soup with him. He placed them in front of Stan and Kyle, said something, and left again.
The boys exchanged glances before eating. Steam rose from the bowls, but it tasted good, and it was a welcome refreshment, as neither of the boys had eaten for the past couple of hours. They sat there in silence, simply enjoying the burning taste in their throats. Hot food was a lovely thing to have after having sat out in the cold for so long.
Soon enough a couple more men came in to get them, and they escorted them throughout the clean, white hallways. Kyle was starting to hate the colour white. Stan was starting to feel blinded because it was so damn bright. But their escorts seemed to have no problem with it.
They were lead to another set of stairs, further going downwards. Kyle started to wonder just how big the place really was, but he didn't get the chance to, as suddenly he was pushed from behind. Stumbling down the stairs, he somehow managed to keep his balance and hop to the bottom. There he fell down, face-first. He got up and looked up at the stairs to see that Stan, while looking shocked at the sudden violence displayed towards his best friend, was still walking upright and had not been touched.
Upon reaching the bottom, Stan joined Kyle and they stood there together, uncertainly. One of the strange men walked ahead of them and opened up a doorway. They both then realized that they were in a hallway, but not for long, as both were pushed out of it and into a bigger room.
This room was different from all of the other ones that they had been in so far. Its walls and floor were grey and cracked, like the kind you'd expect from a gigantic building used for various sorts of activities that just can't be bothered to put in floorboards. The room appeared to be divided in half by another wall. Two more doors rested on each end of the wall. Like the floor above it, it was bare and empty, but it was no where near as clean and sterilized-looking.
Stan and Kyle's escorts, three in all, left their guests alone as they went up to the two other doors: one went in the left one, while the other two took the right side. They left the two boys standing there, clueless as ever.
"Dude, this place is fucking messed," Kyle casually remarked, looking around. Stan nodded in agreement.
"What do you think they're going to do?" he asked, turning to Kyle.
Kyle simply shrugged in response. "I dunno," he said. "But I still don't think it's good. Think about it, dude. Just… it's so gory and disgusting up at the top level, the middle level is freakishly clean, and now we're here… I have no idea what's going on here, but I don't like it."
Stan felt himself looking down to where his left arm should have been. He flinched. "Yeah, I agree with you now," he said. "I—god, if I hadn't wanted to continue checking this place out so badly, we would have just gone back home and we wouldn't be here right now." He took a deep, shaky breath, and felt tears well up in his eyes – partly from guilt, and partly from the pain he continued to feel. "God, this is all my fault, isn't it?"
"No!" Kyle cried out, whirling on Stan. "No, it's not," he said in a softer tone. "You were just kind of… off. It's not your fault dude. We'll get out of here, and we'll get back home, and things will go… close enough back to normal." His voice trailed off uncertainly and faded away as he said the last bit, as he, too, looked at Stan's arm. Kyle almost choked on his breath, and he gave a violent shudder and heavy sigh. "It's… more my fault. If anything, it's my fault you're… missing your arm."
Stan looked at his best friend, and failed to stop himself from crying. "Kyle—" he started off saying, but had to take a moment to regain his composure. "Kyle," he tried again, "don't blame yourself. I… You're my best friend; I'd do anything for you."
Kyle stared at the ground, shuffling his feet nervously, before he launched himself at Stan. "Oh god, dude," he cried out, "I'm so scared."
Stan returned his best friend's hug as well as he could. "Yeah. I am too."
Almost immediately after the last word left Stan's mouth, the men came back to them. Both boys stared up, fearfully, and stood together. This didn't last long, as one of the men violently grabbed Kyle and dragged him down with him to the left door. Kyle gave a sudden cry of shock as he was dragged away from Stan. He stood there dumbly for a moment, before waking up and running after his best friend immediately, but the older boy was halted by the other two strangers. They calmly walked him down to the other door, escorting him as if he were a person of great importance.
And so both boys were separated.
In between their new rooms stood another wall. Kyle looked at it and saw his own reflection staring back at him. His eyes were wide with fear, and his hat was disheveled, so bits of his fiery red hair were peeking out. His fingers were still wrapped with cloth from his minor frostbite scare, and he only had his t-shirt and jeans now, since his jacket had been thoroughly disposed of after being doused with Stan's blood.
Aside from the mirror, there was no change in the walls, roof, or floor. Kyle looked around nervously. He tried to call out his best friend's name, but only a whimper escaped his lips. The man he was with led him up to the wall opposite from the mirror. A rope hung down from there. The man lifted his arms up above and behind his head, signaling Kyle to do the same. Terrified and shaking, he cooperated, and the man tied the rope around Kyle's wrists securely and tightly. The rope dug into his skin, and it was the start of his pain.
Now Kyle knew, for sure, that this was going to be a bad thing. It had only been a nagging feeling before, and surely the strangers' initial kindness had set him off, but now he knew for sure that this was going to be bad. The man went over to the far corner of Kyle's room, where more rope was. It actually turned out to be in a pulley system: the man tugged, and Kyle's body was lifted off of the ground. Once the young boy had been lifted a fair height, the man was satisfied, and he secured the pulley. He then exited the room, leaving Kyle stuck in a form of strappado. Intense pain rushed to his arms and shoulders. He wanted to cry out in pain, but couldn't find his voice.
Stan, meanwhile, was watching all of this, his mouth hanging open in a dumb gape as he saw what was happening to his best friend. Instead of a mirror, he could seen into Kyle's room. His own room only had a single chair in it, which he was meant to sit in – and he did. The chair faced the two-way mirror. Both of the men that had accompanied him stood on either side of the chair.
The black-haired boy gaped as Kyle clenched his teeth and hissed through them in pain. Kyle discovered that it wasn't that he couldn't find his voice; it's that he didn't want to. He didn't want to emit any kind of sound so as to inform his hosts – and now captors – that he was in great pain. If he did, they might do something worse to him. Kyle didn't know. He didn't want to know.
Stan, on the other hand, couldn't restrict himself to such silence. "Kyle!" he cried out, and then cried out once again almost immediately after he had called to his best friend. The second he had spoken, one of the men had taken out a knife and ran it across Stan's back, creating a cut. Stan was still shirtless, and he had a feeling that he'd never end up wearing one again as the blood trickled down.
"Stan?" Kyle asked, looking around in confusion. He was alone in the room, and didn't know where Stan could possibly be. "Stan? Is that you?" Kyle asked again, trying as hard as he could to keep the grating sound of pain out of his voice. He didn't succeed.
"Kyle!" Stan cried out once again, and once again, he received a cut on his back. They weren't minor petty cuts; rather, deep, vicious ones that fulfilled their purpose well. It hurt like hell.
Stan was relieved to see Kyle's eyes light up slightly. "Stan! Where are you?" he called out, looking around. The fact that he knew that his best friend was still there helped ease the intense pain, but only slightly. He could feel his arms dislocating and shoulders breaking, but as long as he knew that Stan was okay, it didn't matter as much.
"I'm right here!" Stan called back, and accordingly, received another cut. The pain from the third cut accumulated, adding to the other two as well as the still-present pain from the loss of his shoulder and arm. He screamed in pain, and felt his own blood trickle down his back from three different locations now, but that didn't matter. He had to speak to Kyle. "You can't see me?" he called out, and was cut. "It must be a two-way mirror, then." Cut. He once again cried out in pain, and lashed out with his legs and remaining arm. The other man with him restrained him, and since he was still weak, Stan was subdued right away.
Kyle, hearing Stan's screams too clearly, only enhanced his own pain further. "Stan!" he shouted out. "What are they doing to you?" Sure, he was in his own incredible agony right now, but he had no idea what was happening to Stan, and that was of a much higher concern for him. Upon hearing no response from his best friend, Kyle tried calling out again. "Stan?"
Stan was shuddering violently, but he couldn't bring himself to respond now. Talking to Kyle just meant more suffering for him. But he desperately wanted to speak to his best friend, and to reassure him – his tongue would just no longer obey. His own survival became his top priority, although at this point, he didn't really care what happened to him.
But he just couldn't deal with any more agony. It wouldn't leave him. Each time Kyle called out his name, in despairing, confused, and anxious hope, it cut through him like a knife. This figurative knife hurt so much more than the literal one, though, but he couldn't bring himself to speak again for fear of physical pain.
Kyle, however, didn't give up. Freaked out and completely confused, he called out for his best friend again. He tried to put the sheer agony that he was experiencing out of his mind, and replace it with Stan, but he failed. He failed miserably. Kyle wanted to be strong. He wanted to be able to take it, and to just be looking out for Stan's best interests only, but he couldn't very well ignore what was happening to him. He tried to squirm out of the rope, but it was tied too tightly, and it only succeeded in hurting him even more. Screaming, he finally just succumbed to it all and sobbed.
Stan couldn't bear to watch. He forced his eyes shut tightly and turned his head away – but this was only met with yet another cut down his back. His eyes snapped open, the bright blue starting to dull, and looked back up at Kyle. He understood his own situation perfectly well: He was not to speak, and he was not to look away from Kyle. He had to watch his best friend suffer and he couldn't do a damn thing about it. He couldn't even talk to him and try to comfort him. Otherwise, he'd get hurt, too. And there's only so much the physical body can take. Stan didn't want to die.
Kyle didn't understand this, though. He had no clue what was happening to his best friend. This caused him further pain, in addition to the rope cutting through his wrists and his arms' dislocation. He felt chills come over his body, and his stomach erupted into massive cramps and aches. He found himself about to cry even harder, and whispered to nobody in particular, "Stan, what's happening…?"
He wanted to know. That's all he wanted right now. Fuck his own arms: he just wanted to know that Stan was okay. If by some miraculous chance Kyle were to make it out of this situation alive, it would be meaningless if he never knew what happened to Stan. His imagination took over. Stan's dead. Stan's on the verge of death. Stan's unconscious – no, Stan's been decapitated, his other limbs have been amputated, he's been eaten. He's been bound and gagged and he's getting raped. He's going through much worse than I am right now. Since no official answer was given to him, Kyle's mind just rolled with all of these thoughts and accepted them as fact. An even greater flood of depression overwhelmed him, and he stayed in this state for hours, until he passed out from the anguish.
Stan had passed out before Kyle did, but he woke up before his best friend, too. He had absolutely no sense of time. Time was meaningless to him right now, but he estimated that it had been a few hours. He noticed that the two men were still there with him, in their same positions. Looking up at them, Stan saw that their gaze was focused on Kyle's room, and Stan watched, too. He saw the third man enter with another knife. Stan watched as he headed straight for Kyle, and he couldn't tear his eyes away from the scene. He watched as Kyle's eyes shot open suddenly as the sole of his foot was flayed.
Instead of crying out in pain, though, Kyle simply spat. He spat right on his torturer's head. The man stopped what he was doing and looked up at the eleven-year-old, only to get spit upon again, this time directly in the eye. It was obvious to Stan that Kyle was in intense pain, but he couldn't help but strongly admire his best friend as he stood up to their captors in his own small way.
Stan sighed in relief as he saw the man leave Kyle's room. However, for sighing, his own torturers dealt him another cut on his back. Stan whipped his head around in confusion, but it was set straight once again, and he was forced to watch Kyle's suffering.
He couldn't really see the suffering, though. Kyle had his own mental anguish, worrying over Stan, that Stan was unaware of. All Stan could see was Kyle hanging there in strappado, and he still couldn't fathom the pain his best friend would be going through.
There wasn't much left to describe of Kyle. He didn't know how long it had been, either, but the fact that he had lost consciousness was enough of an indication for him. Something bad had to have happened to Stan, he concluded. His stomach churned at this thought and it even nearly overtook the great agony he was feeling in his arms. But he just really, really wanted to hear from his best friend again. If he couldn't, he'd welcome death.
But the next closest thing he was given access to was sleep. Kyle felt his eyelids get heavier through the excruciating pain, and then his awareness faded away. And Stan continued to watch, unable to do anything else.
The only thing Stan really had right now was his mind, and it began working against him. As he stared through the two-way mirror, he started reflecting on what had gotten him in this situation: missing an arm, steams of blood encrusted down his back, and forced to watch his best friend go through excruciating means that served no purpose, as far as he could tell. And the first thing that came to him was that it was all his fault.
Even if Kyle could have spoken to him and been with him, he wouldn't have been able to convince Stan otherwise. It really was all his fault. He just had to be so damn stupid and take a great fascination into the gore-filled cabin to the point where a small obsession had even started forming in his mind. If he hadn't done that, and had just listened to Kyle's common sense about leaving right away, it would never have come to this. It was his own fault that he had lost his arm and it was his own fault that both he and his best friend were going to die.
He felt himself starting to cry again, and he felt another slash across his back just as the tears started to fall. Stan attempted to ignore it; he attempted to be strong, but couldn't. Regardless, he whispered to himself, "I'm so sorry, Kyle." Four cuts in quick succession were given to him, but that didn't stop Stan. "I'm so sorry."
He sat there, mind consumed only with agony, and he hated himself for it.
Kyle was suddenly woken up once again. He felt the skin of his foot slowly being sliced off once again. His mind screamed to him in pain, but externally, he only hissed through his teeth. He was determined not to show great pain. He was strong and he knew it. And so, he spat on his tormenter again.
Kyle's sudden scream woke Stan up. The spitting had earned Kyle a greater injury, and now blood dripped down from his heel. The Jewish boy hadn't meant to scream, but it had slipped out. His gut was already in tremendous pain from his worry over Stan, his shoulders he wished he never had, and now his foot was missing skin and it was bleeding. His eyes narrowed at all of these things, and his foot continued to be cut up.
Like Stan, Kyle tried to ignore the pain. He tried to ignore the burning sensations and the sheer agony, but he couldn't. His mind was busy at work. It was partially consumed by his injuries, partially consumed with his imagination getting carried away about Stan's demise, and the rest was focused on some kind of revenge. That's all Kyle really wanted now. He didn't care how immoral or wrong it could possibly be, he just wanted to show these sick fuckers who was in charge. He wanted to be in charge. His fury was further enhanced by the anguish he was experiencing, and it just further pissed him off that he couldn't do anything about it.
As Stan sat there, watching his best friend going through so much more than he was, his mind berated him for it. He was too afraid of getting hurt himself, and yet Kyle was going through so much more and still managed to remain defiant. Stan knew Kyle. He knew that he wasn't licked yet, and that he wasn't about to be. And Stan was jealous of that. He wanted to be that strong, too.
But it continued to tear up his insides with the ever-increasing knowledge that all of the shit Kyle was going through remained to be his own fault. He had gotten his arm ripped off by a bear. Because of him, even after they had fallen off of the mountain – which was also his fault – they were unable to return home because he wouldn't have been strong enough to make it that far. It didn't occur to him once that he had saved Kyle's life by jumping in front of it. That was meaningless to him. The way he saw it, he was the reason that both of them were getting killed so slowly. He had consistently encouraged Kyle that going with the strangers was the best option to take, but obviously it wasn't.
Even more time passed, and Stan felt relieved once he saw Kyle's eyes start to close again. Kyle was feeling relieved, too. He was completely in the dark, but as long as he could sleep, it didn't matter as much. It didn't hurt as much at all. He welcomed it—
And was denied it.
Upon closing his eyes, Kyle's foot was stabbed and cold water was immediately splashed over him afterwards. His eyes shot open once again and he looked around fearfully, wide awake.
Stan gawked at what they were doing now. Instead of further chastising himself like he really wanted to, he finally did what he really wanted to do.
"Kyle!" he cried out, and was so delighted upon seeing Kyle's eyes light up that he didn't feel his new wound being created as badly.
"Stan?" Kyle cried out, looking around. "Stan! You're alive!"
Stan was about to reply in happiness, but upon only opening his mouth, the knife sought out his back once again and created a new cut, deeper than the previous ones. He was left in sudden shock and further accumulated pain, his mouth hanging open as he was frozen.
But on the other side of the wall, hearing Stan's voice again gave him further happiness. He grinned like a maniac, and new fire was brought to his being. His mind began working at a faster rate, planning out so many deaths and revenges, when it was suddenly halted by another new stab of pain. Like Stan's, it also accumulated.
Kyle would have thought that by now he'd be used to the agony in his arms, but he wasn't. He didn't know how long he had been in this position. Days, most likely, his mind decided, and then the sole of his foot was given a cut and blood started to drip freely from that.
He didn't scream from the sudden agony, but he did start to cry from it as reality came crashing down upon him. Time all flew together and Kyle became unaware of anything else's existence. There was only him, his mind, his agony, and Stan – and the latter was merely a faint presence to him. Stan saw it all happen.
Unlike Kyle, Stan was granted the privilege of sleep when it overtook him. But each and every time he woke up, he saw Kyle, still awake, with closing eyes that were never allowed to close. Every time Stan saw Kyle drift off to sleep, it was only a microsleep, and Kyle was completely unaware of it. As far as Kyle knew, he was being kept awake the whole time. His exhaustion overtook his mind along with the incredible agony, and he soon realized how incredibly hopeless it all was. Reality set in, and Kyle knew that he wouldn't be able to extract any kind of revenge on his tormentors. He knew that he would never see Stan again, and he knew that he was going to die here. He knew that the next time he would get to sleep, he would be dead. He knew that all of his hopes of escape and setting things right would never happen.
So he stopped being strong. All of the time and torture just blended together for Kyle, and all he could do was cry. He called out for Stan occasionally, but never heard Stan's replies. Kyle had started off completely defiant, but he was broken down by the knowledge that he would never be able to do anything – that and he was in complete anguish.
And as Kyle broke down, Stan experienced further emotional conflict and psychological torture. He continued to watch in horror as his best friend started to truly die right before his eyes, and his mind further reminded him of how it was all his fault. There was no part of the situation that he wasn't to blame for. He relived the scenes, saw himself being an asshole to Kyle and forcing what he wanted to do down on him. Stan saw himself dragging them both to their bitter ends, and his mind refused to let him forget it.
Stan, like Kyle, didn't know how long it had been. However, unlike Kyle, things did not just blend and flow together for him. Each bit of torturous act he witnessed happening to Kyle stuck in his mind. He was permitted sleep, and so his brain had better functioning. He was fully aware of his own stinging agony constantly. His mind was fresh, and his mind was damning him.
It was only so long before Stan finally snapped. He had had it with himself telling himself that he was responsible for it all, and so he jumped up from the chair and leaped on one of his supervisors. This caught the strange man off guard, and his companion had to hoist Stan up off of him and deal him yet another slash – this time across his stomach. But Stan ignored it now, and continued raving in midair like a mad beast. He spat and snarled as he kicked and flailed, his one arm more than making up for his lack of two as he clawed and punched at the air. His mind completely deserted him.
And both were defeated. Kyle had let reality get to him, and Stan had let his emotions get to him. Both still suffered from physical pain, but they had reached their limits mentally. Kyle's eyes were dead and Stan's were brimming with too much rage and life. So their captors had decided that they were finished.
Stan was conked on the head to calm him down, whereas Kyle was lowered from his strappado, giving him a small bit of relief at last. Both boys were carried out of their separate rooms and into the one that they had been in over a week before. They were placed in the center of it, and then the men left. Kyle slowly raised his head, bleary-eyed, to see where he was now. Upon seeing Stan in front of him, he fully woke up and gave a cry of happiness, wishing that he had the strength to fling his arms around his best friend.
Stan became alert once again from hearing Kyle's joyful cry, but upon seeing his best friend, he snapped out of his madness. Being the physically stronger of the two now, he hugged Kyle close to him with his one arm, and Kyle gratefully nestled his head into Stan's chest. Pure exhaustion overcame the younger one, and he finally fell asleep, but not before getting a few words out.
"It wasn't your fault, Stan," Kyle said. Stan wondered how Kyle had known what he was thinking throughout the ordeal, but not for long. Stan gave Kyle a faint smile, and it was the last thing Kyle ever saw before drifting off to sleep. Stan soon joined him as the poisonous gas filtered into the room. The two died together, sacrifices to some perverse god, but finally content.