The fire is now lit. The boss’s son douses me with alcohol. When the authorities find me, it will help them blame me so the company does not have pay compensation to my family. I struggle at my bonds. I don’t think I’ll be able to get free of them before the fire catches me.
The skull in a skull T-shirt blows me a kiss and saunters out of the factory with his friends. I look at them through the open door. They all walk away, and then the skull stops and turns. He waves his friends away, and then stands watching the fire. I call out to him. I doubt he can hear me over the crackling of the flames.
Then he comes back in. He removes the skull, his face inside is streaked with tears, but he is smiling. He sits down on a crate and fishes a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, and then lights one from a stray flame.
With excruciating slowness, he frees me from my bonds.
“They’re gone,” he says. “You can go too. You can even call for help. But it’ll be too late for me.”
I sit up and cough. “Why are you doing this?”
“I told you.”
“Come with me. You don’t have to—”
He points his gun at me. “Go,” he says. “If you try to save me, I will kill you.”
I stop at the door to look back at him. The skull, now deflated without him inside, hangs from one hand, dangling between his knees. The gun lies under it. The cigarette makes its way back and forth from his mouth, and he puffs out smoke dutifully. His eyes are glazed over, serene. There is a little smile playing on his lips. He does not notice me when I leave.