Rated for character whumping, major angst, and swearing.This is a re-upload with shiny new edits that make it more awesome. So if you're a previous reader and some things seem to be changed, they are, because I've gone back and edited all 30,000 something words. All the chapters will be re-uploaded as they are re-edited. That is why the story says in-progress once again. However, the complete plot-line will still be available to read. But I strong suggest waiting to read the ~*prettier*~ chapters.
Disclaimer: I own nothing of Torchwood or Saw, and, unfortunately, am not making any money from this. Reviews are payment enough.
Let the game begin.
That much he knew. His entire body, cold, aside from the left half of his head, which throbbed in close tandem with his heartbeat. The steady pounding couple with the temperature was what had awoken him. Or perhaps it was due to the feeling of tight metal around his entire body, which only served to further confuse his muddled brain.
Captain Jack Harkness found himself naked and chained in a cold room with little light, blood on the side of his face, and no recollection of how he could have gotten there.
Not the best situation to find oneself in.
Then he noticed he was suspended a fair distance from the ground.
Also not the greatest of things.
Jack tried to stretch, but could not. His wrists were in shackles, raised above and behind him, so that he could not see where the chains led to. A leather and metal harness encased, and when he shifted the slightest bit, it tugged at his ribs; he looked down and saw that the harness seemed to be coming from his ribs. He could feel a dull throb coming from between each rib, which meant . . . the harness . . . was . . . in his ribcage. There was also a constant pulling at his mid back; he was able to catch a glimpse of chain before his neck cramped sharply.
Upon further inspection of the room, Jack concluded the faint light came from a television set halfway up the wall and a little to the left of him. It flickered grey and white static. He almost looked away when an image, grainy but recognizable, appeared there. It looked to be a marionette doll: fake, black, curled hair, and a white face with red swirls painted on the round, prominent cheeks. Red eyes set in black sockets held an eerie life of their own. It was turning to face him, and the mouth began to move as a husky man's voice spoke to Jack as if they were in the same room.
"Hello, Jack. You don't know me, but I know you."
It paused, the unseeing eyes boring through the suspended captain.
"I want to play a game."
Jack gaped at the macabre marionette as it continued to speak.
"You live not knowing your place or purpose. You know more than you should, and you have no one with whom to share it."
The marionette paused again, turning more to face Jack.
"The harness you wear is hooked into your ribcage, and you are suspended fifteen feet above the floor," a few grime-encrusted lights buzzed into life above his head, "And beneath you, as you can see, is a line of seven keys. One of those unlocks the door directly across from you, on the other side of the room."
"All that is required of you is to open the harness, find the key, and move forward. It seems easy, doesn't it? Once you remove the harness, you have twenty minutes before the door locks permanently."
The marionette spoke in a slow, confident, calculated voice, as if it knew precisely what would happen.
"If you should fail, someone dear to you will suffer the consequences."
"Live or die. Make your choice."
Jack laughed at the recording. "I can't die."
"I know that, Captain Harkness. But they can."
Jack's eyes widened, and the screen went black.
Just her and Owen; she, standing at the floor-to-ceiling windows, looking at the darkened river. She was cold because. . . .
Because her feet were bare, and something cold was clamped tightly about her left ankle. Odd, she didn't wear ankle bracelets.
Gwen groaned. She sat up and rubbed her eyes, blinking at the soft blue-white light coating the grungy room. Something to the left of her scuttled across the floor, and she gasped, but it was only a fat brown rat, gone before she could even cringe. Gwen rolled onto her stomach to stand, but a clanking came from her ankle. She tugged at the chain, but it had no give whatsoever.
"What the hell?"
She took a moment to survey the room: it appeared to be an ancient, miserable lavatory, rust and other questionable stains covering every surface. There were cloudy rectangles that may have been mirrors above each once-white sink, and there were two urinals and a bath tub of sorts on the wall closest to her. She could easily reach the tub on her short restraint. She couldn't quite decide if she wanted to see the inside.
So she stood up and nearly toppled over as the blood rushed to her head, caught herself on the blackened tub. But immediately looked away, gagging, bile rising in the back of her throat. It was filled to the brim with brackish water and a bloated body floated in it, clothes pulled taught over the distended stomach. The face was so puffy any features beyond the evidence that it was human were indistinguishable. The skin on the fingers looked to be sliding off in long strips.
Gwen looked back at the corpse, her mouth unhinged and her eyes bulging. The sight was bad enough, but the horrendous smell was enough to make her gag. She turned away from it, her face to the wall. Bodies in general still perturbed her: this one, however, frightened and disgusted her. Never had she seen this stage of decomposition. Hell, she couldn't even recall a time she had seen a body older than a few hours . . . and a carcass with everything stripped off it. But this was much different from that. Seeing those carcasses could be likened with seeing a slaughtered cow. Meat. Just meat. She could tell herself it was just meat and bones, no face to attach it to, no next of kin. Decomposition . . . not so much.
Something silver poked out from under the corner of the tub, noticeable because it was the only clean thing in the entire room. Gwen dragged it out using her foot, hooking her toe through the loop of black plastic.
It was a handheld cassette player, the kind that used bite-sized tapes. Finding the eject button, she pressed it and found the player empty. Struck by a sudden idea, she searched her pockets; from her left back pocket she pulled a paper envelope with her name written on it in clean capital letters. She ripped it open and shook the contents into her hand. A small tape with "play me" written on a white label fell into her palm, along with a round-headed silver key. Immediately she dropped to her feet, testing the key on first the padlock holding the shackle shut and then the one securing the chain around the thick pipe. It didn't fit either.
"Okay, Gwen. Just play the tape." Her voice quavered slightly.
She slid the cassette into the player and clicked the triangular play button. There was a fuzzy scratching sound like the start of an old record, and Gwen turned the volume knob until it was at maximum.
"Hello Gwen. You're probably wondering where you are. I'll tell you where you might be. You might be in the room where you die."
Gwen's eyes widened.
"Your entire career you have wanted something more than just the tedious drudgery of average police work, and now that you have gotten that opportunity, you are beginning to regret it. The errant hours and secrecy is taking its toll on your home life, the one thing no one wants you to lose."
A weak cough interrupted the scratchy voice.
"The oxygen in the room is slowly being replaced with carbon monoxide. The key to unlock your escape lies within your dead cell mate. If you should fail to find it, the door leading to your escape will lock. You have three minutes. Let the game begin."
Gwen stared at the player as it clicked off. She looked from it to the swollen body, back to the player, and finally at the body. Then back to the door: a strip of red numbers counted down from twenty.
Trying her best to ignore the stench, she crawled closer to the tub and used the side to pull herself to her feet. Her constitution was not as strong as she had wagered, and she had to turn away and spit out the bile that slipped into her mouth. Unwanted thoughts scampered around her head. Who was this man? What had he done to deserve this? What had she done to deserve this? Taking deep breaths of the less putrid air away from the body, she finally calmed herself enough to face it once more.
This time, she used one hand to plug her nose, and took shallow breaths through the corner of her mouth. She began by checking the obvious pockets, but the body was so tumid the clothes were too taught for her to reach a hand inside the fabric. So she turned her head to the side and reached into the opaque, sickeningly warm water. She felt around the bottom of the tub cautiously. In the corner farthest from where she had started, her hand brushed against something solid. With tentative fingers, she gripped it and withdrew her arm from the water. Please, let it be the key.
It was a small kitchen knife, the blade no longer than a few inches. Sick realization bled into her stomach.
Gwen unbuttoned the shirt from the body and surveyed the bloated abdomen. She looked away, raised the knife, and thrust it into the dead flesh.
Gwen tried not to count along.