Snail snarled. He circled around the chair, his body vibrating from Henry’s response; his eyes a cold, dark blue. Henry stared back at him with fiery, regretting how the situation had come to this. He closed and opened his fists under the tight plaited ropes.
“You stupid old man. You fool. What did you think? This would all go away? We would magically be on our merry ways, not taking notice that the deed was never done? ” Snail laughed. “Did you think we wouldn’t check? You did, didn’t you?” He shook his head, pulling his right index finger to his lips. “Not the dumb criminals you thought we were, huh?” Snail began touring around Henry again with a slow, forced paced, his dress shoes dragging the floor.
“What to do with you, what to do with you…” he murmured.
Henry felt a bead of sweat forming on his forehead. He had fallen in love with her, her smile, her careless ways. He remembered seeing her out on the beach dock last summer, her long dress floating in the wind profiling her beauty, her sense of lightness as she stared across the water streaked in the sunset. Open, close.
“I should just kill you, you know?” Snail draped his hands on Henry’s shoulders from behind, leaning into his ear. “But then again, my favorite punishment for these kinds of games is taking away what you most prize and then watching you, “ Snail sighed, “…watching you fall apart. Not able to enjoy anything in life anymore, so enclosed by the dreariness and the boredom that you kill yourself. Oh that is a fun game.” Snail pushed off his shoulders.
“But what’s your greatest prize, Henry? What keeps you ticking?” Snail was facing him again. “Tick-tock.”
Henry brought his gaze up to Snail’s bleak face, “No person has just one thing in life. I’m sorry if you do, you must live a sad and boring life.” Henry cocked his head.
Snail threw back his head in laughter, “You are truly a fool. It’s alright, old man, I already know the answer.” Snail pulled a chair up to face him. He plopped down, resting his arms on the back, flashing the head of his gun.
“I think,” Snail stared absently at the ceiling,” I think, you value your mind. I mean that is how you got all of this, right?” Snail stretched out his arms to the room around him. “This is what got her attention, what originally got her interested. How you two even managed to meet.” Snail bit his lip. “So, if I take your mind, your ability to think for yourself, I take it all, you see? Without your mind, you are not stable. Michael takes over as the sole proprietor and we will share in all you worked for while you slumber away unknowingly in a crazy house. That’s a fitting end for a genius, don’t you think?” Henry could hear the irony in Snail’s words. “Aren’t you going to ask me how, old man?”
Henry continued to look down at the tile; he knew how. He had invented the how just over two years ago. It had been intended to be a temporary memory loss pill, to help those forget tragedies or life altering events. It was supposed to help people; instead it killed them. It took away everything they knew, turning them to vegetables in a matter of weeks. The trials had been a public outrage and a failure for Henry. All of his work had been trashed and the pills sent to an incinerator. He had kept a bottle himself to use for future experiments. He had only told one person of where that bottle was kept.
“What have you done with her?” Henry asked softly. Open, close.
Snail put his hand under Henry’s jaw and pushed it up so that their eyes met again. Snail showed his white teeth, slick with saliva, he had been waiting for that question like a loyal dog for his meaty treat.