Next stop nowhere.
He dropped the knife, panting for breath and covered in blood spatters, looking down at the results of his vigorous labors. Posey laid lifelessly on the ground in front of him, her body ravaged by countless stabbing and slashing wounds. The pool of blood surrounding her grew wider and wider as the still warm fluids seeped from her vast assortment of terminal injuries that had, in a sense, put a stop to her terminal disease. Her face was hidden beneath a blood soaked mane, never to smile or frown again.
He felt a pair of hooves envelop him from the side, followed by an eager set of teeth nipping at his ear playfully before kissing the side of his muzzle. "Finally ...she lasted a while for being so sick."
The mare at his side lowered to the floor, Lance letting her pull him along with her as she kept her hooves around him. Soft Cure pressed her lips to his own eagerly, and he pulled her closer as she moaned into the kiss. Their bodies writhed against one another in anticipation, neither of them seeming to care that their coats were becoming progressively more soaked in Posey's blood as they moaned their desire for one another.
Finally, the gore covered young nurse pushed him onto his back, climbing atop of him and smiling as she leaned down to start in on another impassioned kiss then shifted her hips that last little bit...
Lance let out a shout as the deaf colt's blow sent him stumbling against the opposite wall. He scrambled to get his balance back in a daze, fumbling forward as the ringing in his ears persisted and the brace on his back leg seemed to bite spitefully into his flesh. The corridor of broken doors had changed. The debris was still mostly there, but everything was melted and covered with angrily scrawled repetitions of the same phrase in black lettering over and over.
GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT
In his daze he managed to oblige by maintaining his forward movement, vaguely aware of the deaf colt keeping pace behind him as though making excessively sure he followed instructions. Lance reached the elevator and collapsed, gripping his ears as the ringing kept getting louder, his back hoof shaking as the pain from his brace spiked into his flesh. He felt the elevator resume its descent, and bit by bit the ringing and pain both subsided until he was left panting to catch his breath from his spot on the floor. In spite of feeling like he had just barely managed to crawl to safety after a bomb had gone off, he was actually no worse for the wear aside from a fresh bruise on the side of his face...and the memory of another nightmare being beaten back into his skull.
"What the buck is wrong with me?" he asked nopony in particular as he briefly held his head as though he could possibly squeeze the recollection out of his ears. "It's just a dream ...you can't help what it was ...you're not that pony ...it's just a dream," Lance said to himself as he got back to his hooves, shook off the last bit of adrenaline, and then put the hourglass button into the matching slot between the middle and top buttons.
It took him a bit longer to press the button this time, but press it he eventually did. The alternative was wasting away in that elevator. Whatever awaited him below as he continued to descend would at least be quicker than that.
His next stop was a rather plain looking wooden door with a completely operational doorknob. It opened out to what at first looked to be another corridor, but there was a bit more to it than that. Lance recognized the floor to be cloud, but not the smooth cloud that would be expected inside of a building. This was rougher cloud that was walked upon by many hooves many times a day. It was a road in Cloudsdale. The walls and ceiling were metal frames over which had been tossed a massive sheet soaked through with water and stained with rust washed off of the supporting structure. Though it still functioned as a corridor overall he could not imagine ponies being happy about such an improvised structure blocking the street off. Pegasi could fly over most things but some carriage loads were a bit heavier than to expect a pegasus to fly with every day, which was why Cloudsdale even had the few roads it did in the first place.
Lance started to cross the road, casting a glance to the door on the other side. It was colored a light purple and vaguely familiar but he could not quite put his hoof on it in his mind. As he approached he kept expecting to hear hoofsteps or something far more horrible on the outside of his little sheet and metal corridor, but no sounds were forthcoming. It was completely silent, unnaturaly so in fact. There was not even the soft sound of wind or the sheets rustling gently under its sway that one would grow accustomed to being a constant element in Cloudsdale. Lance was completely and utterly alone on that street.
The purple door of the opposite building opened as easily as the first. It was mostly barren inside with a thick layer of dust, typical of the many abandoned buildings he had explored since waking up in the library. A vast majority of the furniture had been stacked against windows and doorways before being nailed down, effectively limiting him to just the one room. The bar to his right still had two stools in the right place though. On the bar in front of those stools were two bottles of wine with a pair of accompanying fancy glasses. One bottle was empty and rested on its side while the other stood with about a third of its contents remaining. The glasses still had a bit of wine left inside of them as well. At one point the wine had looked absolutely wonderful, but now all that was left was a foul brown liquid that smelled heavily of vinegar with the corpses of drowned gnats floating on the surface. Below those dead gnats in one of the glasses was the triangle shaped button he needed to keep going.
But he did not immediately take the button and leave. He recognized this place. It was a restaurant and bar that he and Posey would make a point of frequenting every once in a while when his schedule and the needs of their child permitted it. The food was good, the drinks were decently priced, and the atmosphere had been calm and friendly. There had even been live music every now and again. It was not exactly a special place for them either. Posey brought friends there all the time, and in the occasional bout of social competency Lance would share a meal with a few fellow surgeons outside of shift hours. He had even managed that much for a while after Posey had died.
It only took one bad night for him to stop showing up though. Worse yet is that there had been no reason it could not have been a wonderful night. It had all been his fault.
Lance sighed morosely and tipped the glass over with his muzzle. The button assembly fell out before the wine glass rolled off behind the bar and shattered against the floor. He shook off the spoiled wine, finding it probably the least unpleasant substance he had been forced to deal with in recent memory, and then started back for the elevator. The suffocating silence continued to weigh heavily on him as he journeyed back across the street.
He was alone and would always be alone.
As he plugged the triangular button into the bottom slot and pressed it only to hear the static of the speaker above flare up again, he could already sense the conversation he was about to hear, and already hated it.
"I'm sorry about last night."
"Yes ...I am."
"Okay ...I understand why you couldn't do ...it. Maybe it's still a little too soon. I understand," she assured him, albeit a bit unsteadily.
"It's not your fault."
"I know Lance. I know."
"Do you love me?"
"I ...think you're a wonderful, smart, capable mare, and I really admi-"
"I didn't ask if you admired me I asked if you bucking loved me Lance," she interrupted sharply.
"No I ...forget it. That's too much right now. I get it ...but maybe you could stand up for me ...even just once?"
"Do you know what the staff thinks I am Lance?! Do you?!" she asked, her voice breaking.
"Of course you do. But what do you care, you don't have to deal with it."
"I do care Soft Cure."
"Then at least pick one!"
"Pick ...what do you mean?"
"Don't just leave me out to dry in public and then leave me cold and alone at night too! You keep talking like you care about me but I don't feel any of it on or off the clock! I'm okay if you're ashamed of me so long as I feel like you love me in private. I'm okay if you can't bring yourself to touch me so long as you stick up for me. But I'm not okay if you don't do either Lance, so just pick one already okay?!"
"I'm sorry Lance I ...I'm not the one who lost a loved one here. I ...I just need a bit ...could you just leave me alone for an hour or so? I know I just need to be patient and let you heal but ...this is getting really hard."
"You moron ...you bucking ...degenerate moron," the Lance of the present swore at himself as he let his head hang with his eyes closed tightly as another burst of static signaled the end of that conversation. "You'd already abandoned the last shred of decency you had in you when you started ogling a younger mare's rump while your wife was suffering on a hospital bed! The least you could've done is admit you're nothing but a lech and made the one mare who was there for you feel good about something in the life you were letting get ripped to shreds around her! You should've done everypony a favor and-"
Lance stopped his ranting at his past self, his eyes suddenly going wide. His fearful gaze slowly went back to one of his saddlebags as he heard a soft ringing in his ears. He pushed the button again, then again, and again, tapping it repeatedly, wordlessly begging the elevator to just move already as though something were running toward the elevator to eviscerate him. Finally it deigned to resume its trip downward leaving him to let off a little sigh of relief.
"Just one more ...just one more," he assured himself.
The elevator stopped at what he hoped to be the bottom floor, and he spent a moment looking to his sides before glancing behind himself to see a small worn down chamber comprised of the familiar rusted metal walls and grated floor. The upper two thirds of the chambers far wall was a bit different though, being segmented and looking like it could be removed or retracted. A glance downward solved that issue, as sticking out of the wall just below the odd segment was a crank handle, still bearing a few spots of rust but still looking fairly solid. Lance gripped it in a hoof and tried giving it a turn, finding that some of the inner workings were significantly more rusted as the panel above shook slightly. A second attempt with a good bit more strength behind it managed to get the crank turning, the screech of worn out metal parts being forced back into operation filling the small space and causing Lance to wince, his remaining ear folding back defensively against the sound. He got it about halfway open before it became completely stuck, unable to open any further no matter how hard he tried to turn the crank further.
He shined his light through the opening, and found that immediately behind the panel was a pane of heavily scratched up glass. Beyond that was a small darkened room with a twin sized bed and a desk holding a good amount of books. On the bed rested a sleeping mare, her hoof sandals and stockings neatly arranged on the floor next to the bed as her pink nurse cap hung from one of the bed posts against the wall. She still wore her form fitting pink coat that ended just shy of the flank to not cover her winged heart cutie mark.
Lance's pupils quickly shrunk as he saw himself open the door to the room and flood it with light from the hall outside. Soft Cure stirred and then raised her head up to look at her visitor, eyes still bleary with barely forgotten sleep. "Lance?"
"Hi," he said as he closed the door behind him. He did not switch on the ceiling lights but Soft Cure did reach over with one hoof to turn on a small lamp next to the bed as she rubbed the sleep from her eyes with the other. "Just thought I'd drop in."
Soft Cure smiled a tired smile despite her nap being interrupted. "What's the occasion?"
"Oh goddess please no," the older Lance pleaded, grimacing as he recognized that particular on call room at Clousdale General Hospital.
The younger Lance did little other than to conspicuously reach up to lock the door.
Soft Cure's eyes widened slightly. "That ...didn't answer my question?"
"Well, we don't have time off at the same time for a while. But ...we do have a few spots in our shift where neither of us have to be anywhere right that second," he explained. "I figured we could make the most of it."
She blushed a little, sitting up on the bed before fidgeting with her coat a bit to straighten it. "The uh ...'most of it' how exactly?"
Lance answered by strolling over and pressing his muzzle to hers, capturing her lips as her blush deepened and she returned his affections with a moan muffled by his own mouth. Her enthusiasm hit a bit of a road block as he placed his front hooves on the mattress and started easing her back though. In spite of her eagerness she still parted lips with him and put a hoof to his chest to bring a halt to things.
"W-wait Lance ...in the on call room?" she asked with worry.
"We both know I've committed far more severe policiy violations while working here," he countered with a small smirk.
"I'll change the sheets myself. I'm not going to make you lose any more sleep than I already am because of my dumb idea," he interrupted, prompting her to smile again and giggle softly.
"Our first time in the ...that's so bad! You're awful!" she said in faux accusation as she looked up at him with half lidded eyes.
"You seem awfully bad right now yourself, nurse," Lance replied, looking her in the eyes as their muzzles hovered less than an inch apart. "You said it yourself, if the staff is going to talk no matter what we do, we might as well give them something to talk about."
She bit her lip through her uncontainable grin, squirming a bit before she answered by starting to unbutton his shirt with her teeth as her face practically glowed with arousal. "Fine ...but just this once. Next time ...you wait until we're both off," she relented between button nibbles.
The older, bloodier Lance just let his head hang as he closed his eyes tightly. He did not want to see this. He did not want to hear this either. He only wanted to go back to the elevator. But if he did not find whatever it was he needed down there, there was no point. All he could do was just linger there and hope it all had not simply been a ploy to torture him with his own failures. His body ached with regret at the memory of each touch. Even with his eyes shut against it he still heard every breath, every quiet groan, every shift of the sheets that in most other cases would have been the beginning of a very good time. In his case though...
Lance winced as he felt his brain jamming that rebar into his gut again when the sounds gave way to a heavy silence, followed by a frustrated growl from the younger surgeon behind the glass.
"It's...it's okay Lance," Soft Cure said comfortingly.
His past self was having none of it though. He climbed off of her and started pacing the room angrily.
"Really Lance, it's okay," she repeated, sitting up. "We can try again later, it feels really good just knowing you want-"
"Why do you stay with me, exactly?" he asked, turning on her suddenly.
"Because I love you," Soft Cure replied as she slid off the bed and trotted over to him with concern.
"Do I need a reason?"
"It would sure bucking help because I can't figure it out!" he snarled at her before resuming his pacing. "A mare like you could pick any stud she wanted but here you are with an old stallion and ...rope to go along with all his baggage."
"Lance, please, calm down!" she implored him as she once more stopped him in his tracks with a hoof to his chest. "You're older than me but you're not old, and I don't care that you have baggage. I would think it stranger if you didn't have some of that baggage after what happened. I love you, and no matter how long it takes you to fully move on I will be here for you," she said with the utmost sincerity as she nuzzled her neck against his.
"You're here for me, huh?" Lance answered coldly.
"Shut up," he said as he raised his head to glare at himself.
"Yes, I am," Soft Cure repeated, wrapping a fore leg around him affectionately.
"Leave it at that you bucking idiot" Lance ordered himself as though it would make any difference.
"Because that makes so much less sense than them being right."
Soft Cure visibly shuddered, retracting her hoof and stepping back to look up at him with abject tearful horror. "Lance, please."
"I can't help it, so many things just fall into place when I take into account the fact that I could pay off your student loans in one go!" he continued as he advanced on her, forcing her to back away from him. "You go on and on about how I don't make you feel loved but you're still here, why would anypony do that to themselves?!"
"Because I love you," she said, holding a shaking hoof up to his cheek, her eyes begging him to believe her, to not be like everypony else.
"You love my money!" he snapped at her.
"Okay ...fine Lance. Call me a whore all you want. Everypony else does," Soft Cure whimpered as she practically wilted. She took a shaky breath ...and seemed to find a second wind as she glared tearfully back at him. "At least at the end of day I can go to sleep knowing I'm not the one pining over a CORPSE!" she retorted ...shortly before her head snapped to the side leaving her gaping in shock, wide eyed as a red hoof shaped mark burned on the side of her muzzle.
The fury in Lance's face drained in seconds as he fully realized what he had just done, replaced by sheer horror as he looked at his hoof still stinging from the impact against Soft Cure's jaw. He backed away from her. "I'm ...I didn't ...I-"
Retaliation was swift and uncompromising.
Soft Cure's tear reddened eyes now radiated a wild rage the likes of which Lance had never seen before as she grabbed him by the throat with both hooves and slammed him into the wall like a rag doll before she started squeezing. The impact reverberated through the small chamber from which the Lance still able to breathe was watching. To his surprise, it knocked the crank handle loose from its fitting. The younger Lance just remained there, pinned against the wall, not bothering to defend himself as he choked and gagged against her strangling grip.
"If you ever ...lay a hoof on me in anger again ...I am going to break so much of you that you'll be the quality of doctor you'll need to ever walk again, UNDERSTAND?!" she seethed while boring a hole into his skull with her eyes. He was unresponsive, seemingly content to let her strangle him to death for everything he had done and had not done to her. Her grip persisted for a full minute, before she grit her teeth, closed her eyes, and let him go. He collapsed to the ground gasping for air as she stumbled back over to the bed sobbing quietly.
"Garbage," Lance repeated to himself in resignation as he picked up the detached crank handle. There was little reason not to believe it was what he was looking for, as there was little else in the room of interest within hoof's reach and no other slots for additional buttons in the elevator. Amusingly enough the section of crank that had been inserted into the fitting was shaped like a heart.
"Where are you going?" Soft Cure asked, prompting the Lance heading for the door and the Lance heading back to the elevator to stop and look back at her in unison.
"Away ...for good. I'm sorry ...for all of this. I won't bother you anymore unless it's work related," Lance replied in shame, his voice a bit raspy from having just been strangled to near unconsciousness.
"You're not leaving. There's room for two in this bed, come here," Soft Cure ordered as she climbed back onto the bed, eyes still glistening with tears with the mark on her muzzle having become an ugly bruise.
"You're ...joking, right? After what I just did?" Lance queried quite reasonably as his hoof lingered on the doorknob.
"I'm as serious as when I was strangling you half to death, Lance," she repeated firmly as she scooted over to make room for the slightly larger stallion. "I deserved a hoof across the face ...not from you but ...I still deserved it. Just never do it again, or else I won't let you go before you pass out next time. Then you'll wake up and never see me again. Now come get some sleep so I don't worry about you after this, okay?"
Soft Cure reached over and turned off the bedside lamp. This time the darkness in the room was too thick for his surgical light to pierce, and so he languidly took the crank along with him back into the elevator. Finding himself sitting there for an extended period again, he finally forced himself to hit the top button to return to the suspended nurse and figure out how to get to the door beyond.
My goodness if you'd ever been this angry with yourself for how you treated your daughter things may never have come to this.
"Fluttershy was a ..." he attempted to reply as the walls descended around him. The words fell short even before they got out of his mouth though. "No ...that's not right. I was wrong. I was always wrong. She was never a monster. I just needed her to be one ...and I don't understand why. But Soft Cure is different. I know why I did all of that to her. I could've made it stop at any point by just walking away. She would've found somepony else ...somepony else without my baggage, and she would've been so much happier. But I held onto her because I needed her, no matter how much she didn't need me. That's why I'm so much angrier with this ...I understand it."
The world replied with the sound of the winches and cables working apathetically around him.
"Who am I even talking to?" he asked himself yet again as he let his head hang there while examining the floor.
He remained that way until the slowing of the elevator proceeded by the slight jostle and loud echoing clank of the cage having again reached the top floor broke him out of his stupor. As the nurse started panting and struggling to reach him again Lance glanced back down to the crank in his hoof with its heart shaped end and then started looking around for a similarly shaped hole while his watch kept buzzing in warning. It did not take him long to find it, there was a heart shaped hole in the middle of a small circular indentation in the bit of wall on the right between himself and the barbed nurse's prison of cables. Considering the button that had been lying there at the time and the discovery of the nurse herself it was no wonder that he had not noticed it the first time. He inserted the heart shaped section of crank shaft into the matching hole, then pulled back to find that it did not want to budge before trying to push it forward and being rewarded with the metallic click of the mechanism behind the wall locking it from going backward from that point. If there was a release the mechanism, Lance could not see it anywhere he could access so as far as he was concerned the crank only went on direction.
Assuming the device would simply move her out of the way, he gave the crank a full turn only to feel it start resisting his efforts a bit. He looked back to the nurse and to his strange dismay her limbs were now pulled taut, the web of cables starting to retract toward the walls, floor, and ceiling as they remained hopelessly tangled around her. Her panting had become audibly more distressed as she looked at him longingly. If he kept turning the crank, which was his only way forward, then bit by bit he was going to tear her apart. Lance had killed his share of these monstrous things since waking up in the library, but it had always been in self defense ...or mercy at his own expense. This was another matter. She could not hurt him. She was no threat. He was just going to brutally destroy her for his own benefit, and even if she was a monster that would be trying to kill him under any other circumstance it did not sit well with him. But there was no going back. There was no other choice.
Lance closed his eyes and looked to the ground as he resumed turning the crank, trying to ignore the increasingly urgent panting of the captive nurse and the cracking of bone. Now that some resistance had been applied he could gear the hidden gears turning around them behind the walls as they strained while pulling the cables tighter and tighter. A distorted cry assaulted his ears as a meaty crunching noise accompanied a brief slackening of the tension, then another, and another, each forcing another exclamation from the nurse that would haunt him until the day he died. He felt a splattering of fluid on his face that caused him to stop briefly, shivering in disgust at himself as the black blood slithered off of him before he resumed. He kept his eyes tightly shut, the panting and whimpers of agony soon ceasing leaving naught but the sounds of meat and bone in an apathetic grinder in front of him. His watched stopped buzzing. Eventually the crank clicked forward one last time and refused to budge any further in either direction. Lance let out a shivering breath and then opened his eyes.
The barbed nurse had been rendered into many small pieces that were now kept pinned against the wall by the retracted loops of metal cable. Her black blood was swarming all over the walls in a panicked effort to do the impossible and pull her back together. But it would not work, and no matter how much she desperately desired to be close to him she would never again be able to manage it. The way was clear, and on the ground below her original position was a rust covered triangular tablet from which the last bits of her blood were fleeing. Lance picked it up, noticing that it was exactly the same size and shape as the three tablets from his house, although no details could be made out through the rust layer. He then looked up at what resembled one half of the nurse's head pinned to the ceiling and sighed mournfully.
"I should have just told her no ...just said I wasn't interested and never would be. It would have been a lie but it would have been the right thing to do. She would have met somepony else and would be happy right now." He put the rusted over tablet in his pack. "Now I can't do anything to fix any of this aside from doing what I should have done over a decade ago ...if I ever make it back."
Lance stepped past the blood swarmed hallway toward the door, pulling it open and stepping out onto an empty, dark rooftop bordered with a chainlink fence that looked to be one light breeze from falling over from wear and tear. To his left was a utility shed with a barred over door, and behind him on the top of the enclosure from which he had just emerged was a large water tank that had long ago been eroded past the point of serving its intended purpose, now sitting empty and riddled with rust eaten holes.
The only thing that caught his interest was a small bottle next to the barred off utility room door, locked in a metal casing bolted into the wall at about eye level. The casing was fit tightly to the shape of the bottle with no latch or lock to speak of implying it had been bent around it as a permanent fixture. It was partially filled with a small amount of clear liquid. The press in cap and the label were both unobstructed. Lance brought his light up and squinted to read the writing on it.
Barbituric Acid Solution: C4H4N2O3
His eyes drifted downward. That chemical formula was familiar...
The painting of the saint pony inside had not aged well during the spread of the decay from up stairs and was barely recognizable as a pony anymore through all the missing paint. The metal plate had weathered it quite a bit better, and despite being much more rusted over now the engraved text was still very much legible.
"Your gifts ma'am," he quietly muttered as he retrieved the two keys and used them to undo the padlocks. Lance had planned on letting the plate down to the ground slowly to avoid making any more noise but as soon as the second lock had been removed it fell off and it was all he could do to just get out of its way. It landed with an ear splitting crash that would no doubt have been audible two floors up. If he'd had any stealth before, he didn't now, and his best bet was to hurry and get whatever was behind the metal plate.
Which was all of nothing.
It was just more wall. There had been nothing behind it at all. Had it been a trick this whole time? He directed an angry glare at the metal plate but saw that his irritation might be misplaced. There was another engraving on the side that had been pressed against the wall and unviewable:
Was this somehow the saint's grace that would light his path? He pulled one of the notes and the marker from his bag, copying down the sequence, crossed out letters and all, before labeling it "Saint's Sequence."
"The apartments," he muttered as he looked at the bottle again. So the Saint's Sequence had been the chemical formula for barbituric acid ...meaning what exactly? What was he supposed to glean from this information? For that matter what was he supposed to do with the bottle he could not move?
Then he remembered the syringe in his saddle bag, the one that had made him a bit nervous in the elevator for some reason. The liquid in the bottle was the only thing of interest on that roof and the only way he could take it with him was the syringe. He had pulled a nurse to pieces to get there and he was not about to leave empty hooved even if the way forward after that point was not entirely clear. Lance pulled the syringe from his bag and emptied it of any air before pressing the needle through the cap and then pulling the plunger back until he had drawn off as much of the contents as he could. It was enough to fill the syringe about a third of the way, after which he very carefully placed it back in his saddlebag in a position where it was reasonably unlikely to be jostled too much.
The very instant he had his saddlebag buckled closed again he felt a shot of terror down his spine at the sharp hissing of steam venting off to his right.
"NOT AGAIN!" he shouted as he pivoted and backed away a step toward the feeble rusted fence, suddenly flashing back to getting knocked into a pit of pipes back at the other hospital.
There was nopony there.
Lance looked around for a few confused seconds before daring to let out a sigh of relief and-
"Hrrk!" His hooves shot up to grab at the black tendril around his neck like a noose, a single flap of wings above him proving enough to yank him off the roof with his body providing more than enough mass to bust down a panel of the roof fencing. He was left choking and struggling with nothing but the none too soft metal grating far, far below beneath his dangling back hooves. He looked up to see the sovereign leering down at him, watching with a droning unnatural sigh of delight as he struggled before seeming to tear herself away from the sight and shake him until his front hooves let go of her tendril. She then shifted her body, her heavy wing beats compensating to keep her in place as she swung the hanging surgeon in a large circle below her before releasing him.
Lance had no air left to use for screaming as he spent entirely too long falling before his arc of descent sent him bursting through a partially boarded up window on one of the middle floors of the adjacent building. By some miracle nothing shattered on impact but it did not leave him wanting to get up after he was through rolling along the bloodied leather floor. Once more in such a short time, Lance was reduced to a writhing mess of agony stuck on the floor as he gasped for precious air.
"Why the buck ...didn't I get to pass out ...for that one?!" he questioned the universe at large as his shaky hoof reached into his saddlebag, suddenly glad that his discovery of the key in the bottle of health drink had tricked him into saving half of it.