Body and Soul I: The Body Snatcher

Chapter 1: The Fall of the Tower

Part F

It was late in the day, 4 or 5, when he woke up-- a side effect of digging all night after being injured and weak. The body snatcher hadn't left him food, nor had she attempted to awaken him. By the time the sky went dark and the stars started to come out-- about 8 PM, if he was in the latitude he thought he was-- he came to the conclusion she wasn't going to.

He needed food to compensate for his injuries. If she took to starving him, he wouldn't heal. Erik took a can of pork and beans from the stack of cans, and carried it over to the bed. Painstakingly, he lifted the bed, set the can underneath the bed's leg, and dropped the bed onto the can. It took four or five tries before the can tore open, splattering beans all over the bed's leg.

He closed the drain to the sink in the bathroom and dumped the contents of the can in that to use the sink as a makeshift bowl, since the can itself was too damaged and was spilling all over. The repeated lifting had started the bleeding up again, so as soon as he was done he washed and laid back down again.

It wasn't until late afternoon the next day that the body snatcher showed up. He'd begun to wonder if she ever would, and now a sense of relief swept over him along with the usual fear and tension at her appearance. While he'd opened two more cans since the first one for his meals, the procedure of lifting and dropping the bed repeatedly was stressing the very muscles that needed most to heal, and if she'd abandoned him down here he didn't know if he would ever heal properly.

"Feel any better?" she asked, floating his meal over to him-- several tinfoil containers of cold Chinese food, clearly leftovers.

"Somewhat. There's been sporadic bleeding over the past 24 hours, though, so I doubt I'm healed," he warned.

She shrugged. "I'll live. I don't have time to wait around for you to eat-- if you want to go outside, you'll have to eat after I let you back in."

Since the food was cold, there was no reason he couldn't wait for it. "Very well."

The body snatcher gestured. One of the steel cables split into pieces, four of the pieces flattening and wrapping themselves around his wrists and ankles. He watched the process warily. The cuffs weren't linked to anything, so he wasn't bound, but he couldn't figure out why she was doing this if she didn't plan to bind him.

"You can pay me in advance," she said. "I've got a lot to do and I can't be bothered babysitting you. Those cuffs'll let me track you while you're outside, so I don't have to watch."

"What is it that you need to do?" For the first time, he realized that she looked tired.

"I'm going out." She sat down on the bed. "Why should I stay cooped up in the middle of nowhere when I've got money, power and a gorgeous body? I bet you didn't stay locked up in buttfuck nowhere."

In fact, if "buttfuck nowhere" translated to "a distant, isolated locale," he had spent most of his life in voluntary hermitage in such places. He didn't say that. "I'd wondered why you seemed sexually obsessed with me," he said. "Surely you should have no difficulty finding willing partners. I never did, when I chose to look for them."

She laughed. "I like you because you're Magneto. It's a kick and a half, having someone the world's terrified of as my personal sex slave. But you're right-- you're getting hurt, and I've gotta give you time to heal, since I plan to keep you your entire life. So it's time to play with some new toys."

"Well, I would not want to keep you from your new toys," he said acidly. "Perhaps you should simply let me go outside, and finish your preparations. You'll hardly find a partner looking as haggard as that."

"I'm tempted. But we made a deal. You want to go outside, you pay up. Come over here and get your knees dirty."

Her interest seemed barely engaged, perfunctory-- clearly she was only demanding this because it was their bargain. That angered him unreasonably. If she was going to degrade him, she could damn well pay attention to it. He would not be ignored. Angrily Erik threw himself into his task with all the intensity and focus he was capable of.

And he did get her attention. "Very nice," she said when he was done, stroking his hair. "You know, I think you're beginning to like this."

It struck him then what he'd just done, how far from his normal psychology he'd drifted. He had just actually set out to please a captor who wished to degrade him because it upset him that she was bored with him. He should have been glad of it, should have done everything in his power to encourage her lack of interest. Instead, he had actively cooperated with her, sought to please her, because his pride was stung.

That is what will keep you here, old fool! You're still thinking like Magneto, without a fraction of the power to back it up! Did you learn nothing from Auschwitz? Never cooperate unless you must, never work harder than they demand, never think you can appeal to their compassion or a common humanity. If you want to live, if you want to be free, swallow that thrice-bedamned pride of yours!

He bit back any response to her taunt and sat silently. After a moment she grew bored with waiting for a reaction, and stood, pulling up her pants. "Let's go."

After letting him out, she went back into the house. Promptly Erik tested the limits of her remote monitoring, heading straight for the woods. As he neared the edge, he got a sharp shock from the metal cuffs and was roughly dragged about six feet backward by them, falling on his backside. A few more tests in different areas of the yard mapped out the range she would allow him, at the expense of several painful falls. Within that range he was able to do a good bit of exploring. He found where she'd buried his predecessors, in a garden plot on the other side of the house-- at least he assumed so, since it was the only area where the soil was loose enough to reflect recently dug graves underneath. The plot was thoroughly choked with weeds, but he did find two fresh tomatoes and some fresh zucchini to snack on-- he hadn't eaten yet, and fresh vegetables had become a wondrous luxury.

There were several pathways leading into the woods. He couldn't follow them, but he got as close as he could and looked down them, trying to see if he could see a road of any sort in the distance, preferably a different one than the deserted back road he'd found when he'd briefly escaped. No luck-- the paths were twisty and quickly disappeared into the trees.

There were a few trees within the perimeter of his allowed movements. Erik chose one with relatively low branches, including one branch he could reach without strain even in this short body, and practiced chin-ups. The exercise he'd been doing for a week had improved upper arm strength a little-- he was actually able to pull his body all the way up to the branch twice before his arms started shaking too badly for him to manage it again. He wanted to run, but with the healing injuries inside he didn't dare-- he wasn't entirely sure whether running placed stress on vaginal muscles or not, but it certainly made sense that it might. Better to concentrate on his upper body for now-- it needed more work anyway. He waited a few minutes until his arms had stopped shaking, then repeated the exercise, this time not pulling himself quite as high so as not to exhaust himself as quickly.

She allowed him outside for hours, much to his surprise-- it was getting dark when she finally came out to pick him up. He stared at her in disbelief and shock. She was wearing skin-tight leather pants that made the most revealing of his costumes look positively modest, studded collar and gloves, and a Y-shaped set of studded straps across the chest that turned into an X in back. And an earring. The absurd costume was, in its own way, probably no more ridiculous than the short-sleeved outfit with the M on it that he'd worn to give his healing arms free range of motion, and not incidentally show off in front of Lee. But the earring seriously bothered him. He'd worn one himself, once, but the cultural context had been very, very different. Here in America, an earring worn by a man in a getup like what she was wearing tended to mean one thing. Up close, he realized she was also wearing lipstick and a masking foundation, and that only confirmed his fears.

"You-- aren't going out to pick up women, are you," he said. It wasn't a question, quite.

She laughed. "Just because I enjoy fucking men in my own body doesn't mean I like to fuck other women, no. Women don't deserve it. It's men who need to be shown who's on top." She leered at him. "Don't like what I've done with the body?"

"It's rather far removed from my style."

"Yup. No one in their right mind is going to look at me and think, 'hey! that's Magneto!' I recognized you in a business suit, but I really doubt I'd've recognized you in a gay bar."

She had a point. "Since you plan to remain in my body indefinitely, I hope you have the sense to use condoms. When I take the body back from you I have no desire to have AIDS."

"Don't be a worrywart. It's hard to get AIDS from topping."


"I'll do what I want, Magneto. I'm not answerable to you. And since you're never getting your body back, I don't see why you're worried." She pushed him into the basement, lifting him with her powers by the cuffs still on ankles and wrists, and dumped him on the bed. The cuffs melted off and fell to the floor as shapeless lumps of metal, and she shut the door and bolted it, locking him away for the night.

He waited, eating his Chinese food, until he heard the front door shut, heard the car start and drive off. She was gone, and he didn't know how much time he had. He started throwing himself against the door to the basement, trying to break it down. It was impossible to get the leverage he needed-- what he really needed was a running start or room to kick, but the stairs started immediately upon entering the basement, so there was nowhere to stand but a narrow step that gave him no room to lean back. He couldn't kick or swing with any real force from there, and having to run up steps cut his momentum considerably. After about twenty times running up the steps to slam against the door, he was seriously out of breath and the door had budged only slightly.

All right. He went down and got one of the steel cables, doubled it over in his hands into a kind of blackjack, and attacked the door with that. With all the strength he had, he struck and kicked at the area between the bottom and the midpoint of the door.

He'd been working on it for what seemed like forever when the wood finally splintered. The hinge gave, and he was able to shove the wood aside and squeeze out, just barely.

The door to the house was locked. She'd done something magnetically to the doorknob, so he couldn't unlock it. The window proved to be similarly sealed. He smashed the window and tried to push the screen mesh behind it out of the frame. It didn't budge, even when he kicked it, even when he picked up one of the pieces of expensively cheap pottery knickknacks that cluttered every available surface of the living room furniture and slammed it into the mesh with all his strength. He went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife, and attacked the screen mesh-- and didn't manage to so much as put a tiny rip in it. Obviously she'd done something to the screens, strengthening them and welding them to their frames. The strands of the mesh seemed to be entirely metal, not metal-coated nylon like most screens, and were thicker than most screen mesh strands would be. Perhaps she'd used his powers to replace all the screens with these more secure pure metal ones. That didn't bode well for his chances at finding a window to escape through.

He went back to the kitchen again, took a hammer out of one of the kitchen drawers after a quick search, and smashed the glass panes of the kitchen door. Since he had to crawl out that way, he was thorough about it, leaving no glass fragments left in the frame. There was a screen door after that, fastened with a simple hook latch.

A simple steel hook latch.

After several fruitless minutes of standing on a chair, reaching through the shattered door pane and shoving at the screen door in the hopes that the metal latch would simply break off from the door, he gave up and went on a search for windows that had no screen behind them. The screen in the screen door was done the same way as the one in the living room, steel and unbreakable. He had to assume all the screens in the house would be like that. If he didn't find any without screens, he could probably, eventually, work a kitchen knife into the mesh and bend it enough to let him out. But that would take time, and he was short on that.

He found the right kind of window in the second floor bathroom. It was a high, tiny window-- he would barely be able to fit through, even in this body. By now enough time had passed that he was getting very nervous. The window, like all the others, wouldn't open-- he had to smash it, which he did quickly and cleanly by flinging the bathroom scale through it. The remainder of the glass he knocked out with a shampoo bottle, and then stood on the toilet and clambered up to the window, squeezing himself through the narrow opening. What was left of the glass scraped long scores against his arms, ripping the fabric of the blouse. He twisted, getting cuts across his abdomen, and backed out carefully, clinging to the bricks in the wall to support himself as he pulled himself out backwards, standing precariously on the window sill. Carefully, cautiously, he turned around--

--and saw headlights pulling into the driveway.

He swore and bent at the knees, almost falling over. He couldn't rush. If he rushed, he was lost. But if he didn't move fast enough, he was equally lost. Erik grabbed the windowsill and tried to lower himself off it-- he could drop the distance more safely and quietly if he could lower himself the length of his body before dropping.

But he overestimated his arm strength again. When his weight came down on his arms, they refused to hold and buckled, dropping him noisily into the bushes below instead of the more controlled descent he'd planned. He hit the bushes, scraping himself against sharp little branches and getting the wind knocked out of him.

He couldn't afford to be winded. The body snatcher would find him at any minute. He dragged himself to his feet, staggering out of the bushes, and limped toward the woods, trying to force his legs to go faster.

Several lights around the outside of the house lit up, flooding the yard. Erik broke into a run, desperate to make the woods before she saw him, before she caught up with him and--

--Something tangled in his legs. One of the steel cables. Frantically he tried to extricate himself from it, tried to keep going, though by then he knew it was too late. The cable bound his ankles together and dragged him across the ground, over to the side of the house and the kitchen door.

The body snatcher stood there, her face grim. "Well. You've made quite a mess."

He glared up at her defiantly. "Rather short for a night on the town," he said, forcing a calm he didn't feel.

"When I sensed you setting off the alarms, I decided to bring my date home." She smiled cruelly. "What happens next is all your fault, Magneto."

"Alarms? I saw no alarms..." Concentrate on that. Concentrate on learning, so he could change things, do things differently next time. He would live through this. That was all he needed to concentrate on.

"Don't be a dumbass. I've been playing with electric wiring. Ran a circuit through the door to your cell when you were unconscious in my bedroom, just in case you got any bright ideas like this one. When you smashed the door down, you broke the circuit."

And he'd had no idea. No more could he have-- he couldn't see current anymore. It had never occurred to him that she might have devised such a baffle-- he had underestimated her, assumed her to be stupid. A wave of utter despair swept over him. If he couldn't outthink her, how could he escape? He had no other advantages...

The cable released his ankle, and twisted up around his body, binding his arms behind his back and shoving him forward. It pushed him up the stairs and into her bedroom.

"I want you to watch this. I don't know if you even give a fuck, but you whine so much about using your powers to kill only in a cause and rape is wrong and all that shit, I think you will. Keep in mind this is your fault." She opened a door, and shoved him into the open, empty closet within. The cable dragged his arms up and bound them to the clothesrack. From a drawer she took a ball gag, cuffs and metal hooks. Her power drove the hooks into the floor by his feet, and fastened the cuffs around his ankles, locking them to the hooks and binding his legs apart.

When she tried to push the gag into his mouth, he kept his mouth closed tightly, resisting her. Her hand went between his legs, bunching the fabric of the skirt. "Open your mouth, or I'll shock you until you scream and then shove it in."

Or until he lost consciousness from the torture and she was able to force his mouth open. Even if he kept from screaming, there was no way to avoid the second fate. It wasn't worth it. He slumped slightly in his bonds, defeated, and allowed her to gag him and bind the gag in place with a metal strap around his head.

And then she stepped out of the closet.

He was thrown off balance. Hadn't she been just about to torture him? Not that he wasn't grateful for the reprieve, but he didn't understand. If she was going to chain him up in a closet and then walk off, what was the point to the elaborate bondage setup?

She came back a few minutes later with a young man in tow. The fellow was slim, dark-haired with one side of his hair cropped close and the other overlong, and pretty in an effeminate sort of way. He also was terrified, his eyes wide and bright with tears, his arms bound behind his back with more cable, and Erik realized suddenly what the body snatcher's purpose was. She meant to rape the boy in front of him.

"Please," the young man was begging-- he couldn't be older than 22, not much older than Sam would be now, Erik thought with a mixture of pity and rage. The bitch would pay for this. He had already sworn to kill her for the humiliations she'd subjected him to; this crime only sealed her doom. "Please, please don't hurt me. I'll do anything. I swear. I haven't done anything to you, you don't have to hurt me, please, what have I done to you?"

"Sorry, dear boy, this isn't about you," the body snatcher said coldly. "I need to teach someone a lesson, and he doesn't do real well at learning from personal experience."

The boy looked over at Erik. His eyes seemed to plead, help me, save me, get me out of this, though to his eyes Erik had to be as much a victim here as he was. Perhaps, despite the pronoun difficulties, he had figured out that Erik was the person this "lesson" was aimed at. Erik met his eyes, trying to-- what, reassure him? He was powerless here. He could offer no reassurance, only sympathy and the promise of vengeance. The body snatcher forced the young man down on the bed, stripping him, binding him. Erik couldn't look away. He struggled futilely with his bonds as the body snatcher raped the boy, needing to stop this, to do anything, even if it meant killing his own body. But there was nothing he could do. He tried, uselessly, to convince himself that he didn't care-- humans were constantly being killed, tortured and raped, and he'd long ago decided he wasn't going to worry about their species' problems, as long as they left his own alone. But the boy was an innocent, and for all that Erik had killed men this young when they wore uniforms and came at him with guns or nuclear missiles, he had never heard their screaming pleas for mercy, had never seen their young faces as they died. And he'd certainly never raped any of them. He was sick at heart, and so enraged that it was hard to see for the red haze over his vision.

For a moment, after she'd finished and the only sound was the young man's sobs, Erik thought that that would be the end of it, and was relieved. Rape could be survived. He'd survived selling his body for protection and a better work assignment at a much younger age than this boy; what mattered was that the boy was alive.

And then the body snatcher took him again, using the electric shocks. But she didn't hold back as she did when she tortured Erik himself that way. Erik heard the animal screams of pain, saw the young man's body convulsing as arcs of blue-white power crackled around the two, and knew long before the boy's convulsions stopped that he was dead.

The body snatcher dressed, and came over to the closet. As she removed Erik's gag he lunged forward as far as his bonds would let him, trying to bite her throat out. She belted him in the face, knocking him backwards.

"Your fault, Magneto," she said before he could say anything.

"My fault? I am not the person who just raped someone to death! I am not the one who kills for sick pleasure! Monster I may be, but I have never-- have never-- I will kill you for this..."

She hit him again, dispassionately. "Shut up. I might have just fucked him and let him live. I might even have taken him to a hotel room and let him have a good time too. But you made me have to return, and I wasn't going to give up my prize. He would have willingly gone with me, but since I had to fly the car back in order to deal with your escape attempts, I had to kidnap him, and once I took him here I couldn't let him live. Your escape attempt necessitated this."

"No!" He shook his head furiously. "You chose to do this. You chose to hold me captive, you chose to torture me, you chose to murder an innocent for your pleasure. Nothing you can say--" Another blow struck his face. He rocked back with it, but would not be silenced. ."..nothing you can say changes that--" And another blow. This one caught him in the temple, dizzying him. "Do you think you will change my mind by hitting me?" he demanded, and got another punch for that.

"Maybe I won't change your mind. Maybe I need to kill another half dozen faggots before you realize I'm not taking this shit from you anymore. You do what I say, Magneto, and you talk when I give you permission, because maybe I can't kill you, but I can kill them. And if that doesn't work, I'll go find me some muties and fuck them to death. You want me to go kidnapping little mutant kids and fucking them in the ass till they die? Is that what you want?"

"No, of course not. But if you do it, it's on your conscience, not mine. It is not 'my fault,' you fool."

"When are you going to learn? I don't have a conscience." She grabbed his chin. "I'm going to fuck you any time I want, and you're not going to give me any backtalk anymore, and you're definitely not going to try to escape. Because you do any of those things, and I'll kill someone. And then it will be your fault. You could have prevented it by shutting up and doing what you were told, and you didn't." She stepped back from him and gestured. The bonds that held him released, pushing him backward. He staggered, stumbling backward into the closet, falling against the far wall. "Pick up his body and bring it downstairs."

"And if I don't?"

"I'll go out and find someone else to kill. If you don't care about me attacking men, I could go after women. Or little boys. Or babies. Want to watch me fuck a baby to death?"

No. He didn't want that at all. With great effort, he lifted the boy's corpse, staggering under the load. He simply wasn't strong enough. "Let me have a travois. Something I can carry him with that grants him a little dignity."

"He's dead. He doesn't give a shit about dignity. Carry him, Magneto, or he won't be the last one to die like this."

He did his best to carry the body instead of dragging it. It required a stop every three steps, and when he tried to negotiate the stairs he almost fell twice. The second time he dropped the body, and it fell to the bottom of the stairs. Sick fury at himself and his own clumsiness warred with hatred toward her for her casual indifference toward her victim. He wanted to wipe the sneer off her face as badly as he'd wanted to kill when the Nazi engineers had talked about the difficulties the buildup of ash and fats was causing in the crematoria, as if these were minor obstacles to efficiency and not the remains of murdered human beings they were talking about. And, as he'd been then, he was completely powerless to do anything about it. Painstakingly, with tremendous effort, he carried the body out to the side of the garden plot, at the body snatcher's direction.

She gestured toward the house with her head. A moment later a spade came floating out of the garage, to land at his feet. "Dig."

The spade was obviously made of iron. If he swung it at her head, all that would happen would be that she'd deflect it. He remembered his best friend and mentor, an apparently young doctor named Peter Jansen, being shot for smuggling food-- how close he had come to being shot himself, how Peter had managed to grab the contraband away from Erik and conceal it on himself without the guard noticing as soon as it looked as if they might be caught, the blood staining the frozen ground as his friend fell over dead. Most of the bodies were cremated, even back then, but it had amused the officer who'd shot Peter to make Erik bury him, as a punishment. The SS man had stood over him with a gun, forcing him to dig Peter's grave out behind the camp, the ground frozen and hard as he'd chopped at it with all the strength in his small starved body, digging with a spade just like this one. He'd been too terrified to cry, too certain that as soon as the grave was dug he too would be shot and dumped in beside Peter's body, and when he'd been allowed to go back to his work squad afterwards, alive, he had been too tired for relief, too tired for tears. The memory rose up with terrible vividness, choking him with bile, grief and fury. Oh God he wanted her dead. Didn't care any more if his body died, didn't care if he died for that matter, so long as she did. If he brained her and she jumped, would he have a moment of life and consciousness left to him once in his own body that he could electrocute her?

The spade rose up and struck him in the leg, falling back to the ground again. "I said dig. Did you hear me?"

Erik turned slowly and stared at her with a look that had inspired hardened military men to panic and demand his death immediately. She took a single, almost involuntary step backward, and then scowled at him. "Do you have a hearing problem?"

"No." Erik lifted the spade and began to dig. The murdered youngster deserved a grave, at the very least. Someday Erik would track down his family and tell them where their son was buried, but for now all he could do was bury the boy, granting him more dignity than the body snatcher had allowed him. He was neither as weak as he'd been in Auschwitz, nor was the ground as hard; it didn't take the eternity he remembered before a ragged hole, six feet long and four feet deep, took shape. He was too short to dig it much deeper than that and still be able to get out. Almost involuntarily, he whispered the first line of the mourner's Kaddish, the prayer for the dead, as he had done for Peter, as he and his fellows had done for the bodies they burned. It had been so terribly long since he'd thought it meant anything, and yet it felt disrespectful to say nothing, to be silent in the face of wrongful death. When he was done he leaned out of the grave and gently lifted the boy's tortured body, lowering it to the floor of the grave.

He started to remove his skirt, intending to use it for a shroud, or as much of one as possible anyway. "What are you doing?" the body snatcher asked sharply.

"He needs a shroud."

"He doesn't need any such thing, and that's my skirt. You don't get to dispose of it."

"You have murdered this young man for no better reason than your personal pleasures, and you begrudge him even so much as a shroud to be buried in?" His voice rose shrilly, ragged with fury and exhaustion.

"Yep. You're done here. Come on out."

With icy focus, he climbed out of the grave, carrying the spade, knowing what he had to do. He remained on his knees on the grassy earth for a moment, as the body snatcher turned her attention away from him to start tossing dirt into the grave. Her mistake. He stood, reversed the spade so that the wooden handle was pointing toward her, and without warning shoved the wood at the back of her head, aiming for the intersection of head and neck.

Something tipped her off-- the motion of the metal parts of the spade, pointed away from her body? Some small sound, some sight of him in her peripheral vision? She turned, and the spade handle glanced off the side of her head instead of striking the vulnerable back of the neck. Then the spade rose, tearing out of his hands, and struck him in the legs, edge-on to draw blood. He fell to his knees, but refused to cry out.

"How stupid can you possibly be?" she asked. "Don't you know you can't kill me? At this range I'd just jump back into my own body, and you'd be the one to die. Are you actually that suicidal?"

"Even with a severed spine, I'd have enough power left to me to kill you!" he snarled. "I will stop you, whether it costs me my life or no. After what you've done, you murdering, selfish witch, I will pay any price to destroy you!"

"Stupid." She shook her head, and winced. "Ow. Damn, that thing hurt. You're going to pay for that."

She strode over to him and started to pull him to his feet. He slammed his head into her stomach. The body snatcher wasn't prepared for that. She gasped, doubling over, and he did it again, and then stood up rapidly and shoved his knee into her groin, and then started punching her in the face. He was smaller than she was and without a great deal of upper arm strength, but unlike a typical woman he knew how to hit, and he was half-insane with fury. She went down. He kept hitting and kicking her until the spade slammed into his back, knocking the breath from him and driving him to the ground.

In the moment that he lay stunned, she regained her equilibrium, and knelt on his back, pinning him. "All right," she said, breathing hard. She got to her feet, keeping one foot on his back. "You want to play that way? We'll play that way." He struggled, trying to get to his feet, but he was flat on the ground and had no good leverage against the foot pressing down against his spine. "You want to die so badly, I can oblige."

"You're bluffing," he gasped, the breath crushed from him. "You don't dare kill this body."

"Watch me."

"If you do it'll be the first intelligent thing you've done since capturing me. Because if you let me live I will kill you, I swear it."

"You really do want to die." She laughed, and kicked him in the side, hard. He rolled with it, coming to his feet, but stepped backward directly into a floating steel cable, that bound his hands behind his back before he could fight it. Erik flung himself at her uselessly, snarling, trying to slam his knee into her stomach or bite her throat out. The effort was futile, of course; her shields were up, and after a second she dragged him back by the bindings on his wrist, throwing him sideways and flinging him into the open grave, on top of the dead boy.

He was winded from his fall, but too hyped on rage and terror to really notice. Erik turned over in time to see a metal wheelbarrow full of dirt hovering over his head. Panicked now, he scrambled to escape the grave, difficult when he hadn't the use of his hands. The dirt started pouring down on him, choking him. He stumbled backward against the dead boy, the young man's hands reaching for him like his family's had, trying to pull him back down with them, stay with us, you belong with us, lie down and be dead with us, only this time his hands were bound and he couldn't reach the edge of the grave in time. More dirt poured on him, and her power tugged downward on the cable around his wrists, dragging him down, flattening against the bottom of the grave and pushing down as if she didn't know where the bottom was and just kept pushing. His hands were being driven into the earth, and she kept pouring on more dirt.

He screamed, inarticulate and half-hysterical sounds of rage and panicked fear, and choked when he did, without the breath to draw for screaming. Desperately, mindlessly he tried to pull free. The grave was only four feet deep. He could force his way out if she would only release his hands, but his hands were being crushed against the hard earth by the inexorable push of the power she'd stolen from him, and he couldn't breathe, and his shoulders were dislocating as he tried to stay doubled over so that he'd have a pocket of air protected from the dirt by his head. If he could have reached his hands to try to gnaw them off and free himself, he would have.

It took an eternity of air running out and dirt clouding into his lungs and his arms being nearly torn loose from his body by the force of his own desperate struggles before, finally, those struggles weakened. There was nothing in the world but the pounding of blood in his ears and the leaden weight of his body, and he no longer had the strength to keep fighting, though he fought anyway. He had escaped so many years ago, and now things came full circle and the ground opened up and swallowed him again, and this time he wasn't getting away. So much he'd wanted to do, left undone, and this monster who would destroy his reputation and murder the innocent with his body when he was dead was let to run free, and there was nothing he could do.

Erik focused what little energy he had left into a single thought, aimed at a telepath who might or might not receive it. Xavier... stop her... I cannot...

The world dimmed and faded around him.

Body Snatcher: Chapter One Part G

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