It was impossible to scream with the filthy rag stuck in his mouth. He tried anyway, choking on the dustiness of the dirty cloth, jaw working in an attempt to spit it from lips as dry as the desert.

The car came to a sudden halt, throwing him forward to the front of the trunk. His shoulder ground against the tire iron on the floor hard enough to make lights dance before his eyes, driving him to the brink of unconsciousness from the pain.

If only it would be enough to knock him out so he could avoid the next few minutes. But luck abandoned him long ago, well before he left New York. Ages before he fled Las Vegas for Silver City. Luck, it seemed, hated him.

The feeling was mutual.

Doors slammed, rocking the car, the dark and heat of the trunk suffocating. He prayed the lid would never open, that he would simply lie there in the stifling, dead air and suffocate. The click of the lock, the sound of muttering voices, and light shone in around the edges of his blindfold.

Hands grasped him, pulled him free of the small space, dumping him on the ground. Someone’s foot impacted his ribs, all the air whooshing from his lungs from the unexpected blow. But, it was a half-hearted kick, without much intent behind it. They had far more serious injuries to inflict.

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