As George inhaled, the bloody hessian stuck to his lips and a very specific electrical signal was sent from his broken ribs to his brain.
The dull outlines of his captors melded like a lava lamp, and then faded away as he slipped back into the abyss of unconsciousness.
Awake! His face was wet, but not sticky hot blood wet. "Thirsty, George?" asked a shadow who spun around the room.
Through the treacly fuzz, thoughts formed. Where was he? How long had he been here? Why was he here?
He chased the answers through an asteroid field of pain, but always they evaded him.
Another cold splash took with it the blur. He leapt across the room in a flash, crushing his keeper's windpipe.
Or not. The restraints on his chair held firm. The guard laughed.
"It's quite simple," said a voice behind and to the left. "Tell us where Muldoon is and what he told you... and we'll let you go."
Muldoon? That's what this was about? At least now he knew what he didn't know.
The words stumbled through his swollen lips and past a broken tooth, "Do ya fink I'm thtupid? Yill kill me ath thoon ath I tell ya anyfing."
"That's true," whispered the voice, "but it is also true that there are many different ways to die. It can be quick and easy, or..."
The final word hung in the air like a cosh in mid-flight. The cosh in mid-flight did not. The light went out in George's eyes.
George had once read in a magazine that the worst time to wake up was during Stage 3 of non-REM sleep. This is not true.
The worst time to wake up, he knew now, was when a man with a clawed glove was slashing you across the chest.
"Wake up, George, it's time for school." A different room now. The man with the glove stood in front of a blackboard.
"My name," he said, "is Mr. Bear." He flexed his claws menacingly.
A man not being tortured may have noted that naming yourself after your primary torture-mode could be creatively restrictive, torture-wise.
George didn't note this due to being tortured. Mr. Bear ran his claws down the blackboard sending a shiver Express Post up George's spine.
"Sorry about that. That's actually really annoying," Mr. Bear apologised.
He dug his claws into George's arm in a way which made his apology seem insincere. "Where." Harder. "Is." Harder. "Muldoon." Even harder.
It was a fair question, though posed in a very unfair way, and George didn't think that Mr. Bear would like the answer. Muldoon was dead.
"This is a bit clichÃƒÂ©, don't you think?" George had asked Muldoon in the multi-storey parking garage. "I mean, really."
"Nice to see you too," Muldoon replied, slapping George on the back, then pulling a USB stick from his pocket. "I got you a present."
"Thanks. What's on it?" Unfortunately Muldoon's reply came in the form of a red mist and falling backwards over the parapet.
More gunshots echoed around the garage as George ran, weaving between pillars and "WHERE IS HE?" Mr. Bear was poking a hole in his hand.
"Argh, thit, I'll tell ya! Juth thtop, okay!" Mr. Bear leant in close. "Where is he, George?" "He'th-" "Yes?" "He'th in-"
George lunged forward and bit Mr. Bear's nose off. It was not appreciated. Mr. Bear swung his arms out as he fell backwards, severing a restraint.
"You'rb fugging deb!" Mr. Bear gurgled through the blood, but it lacked authority without a nose to back it up.
Then George did something that was a bit icky. You don't want to know what it was. It was gross.
Using the late Mr. Bear's claw, he cut the other chair restraints. Days of torture had already cut the other kind. It was Revenge O'Clock.
As George stumbled out of the building, his clothes in tatters and soaked scarlet, a police car rolled past.
It screeched to a halt as George slumped in a heap.
"What the hell happened to you?" asked one cop, as his partner tentatively peeked through the high arched windows at the bloody scene inside.
"There'th... there'th a bear in there. And a chair ath well," George mumbled. "That chair..." "Looks like they're all dead, Muldoon."
"Christ on a cracker, you did good, kid," said Muldoon, "I only wanted you to lead me to them. You didn't have to kill them."
"I appreciate it though." "Mul... what... I don't..." The cop's face came into focus. "No. No no no." "Yes."
Betrayal can be a great motivator. In a balletic motion, George tackled Muldoon, grabbed the gun from his holster and shot his partner down.
He jammed the hot muzzle into Muldoon's mouth, burning his lips, and pushed him towards the door.
"Open wide, you thon of a bith. Come inthide. We'th got a lot to talk about."