Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hot Air and Strange Odors -- Part 1

The room was dismal, but Erin was well acquainted with the cracks on the walls, the brown water stains on the ceiling, and the hot air and strange odors.  The heat was the hardest to get used to, and even as she stared to the ceiling at the whirling air vents, Erin felt stifled.

How long had it been?  At least a year. 

Though the room was without windows, she could tell dusk and dawn by the light refracted from the whirling vents.  At first, she kept track of the months by her menstrual cycle, but, about four months into her imprisonment, she lost count.

The hot air was generated by the air conditioner in the wall next to the only door to the desperate room.  The air conditioner ran constantly, cooling whatever room was on the opposite side of the wall, dispensing the foul stinking hot air into her empty hell.  Not only was the air hot, but humid as well.

Erin could only guess what the fetid stink in the air was.  It reminded her of roasted lamb—Erin always hated the smell of lamb—yet there was something off about it, and it never ceased.

She pondered what the house on the other side must look like, what kind of scum-bags lived there, but, like everything else about her confinement, it was a mystery.

How she found herself in this dire room, held captive by who or what, she didn’t know.  It had been so long since she tried to remember the last thoughts she had before her capture that she has given up understanding.  Her will is strong but she wondered how long she could last. 

In a time that seemed an eon ago Erin had a husband, Christopher, and a daughter, Jade.  She remembered them fondly, crying herself to sleep many nights on the concrete slab floor.  Christopher was a good man who worked hard so she could stay home and raise their daughter and keep up the house.  More than just her husband and lover, Christopher was her best friend as well.

Poor Jade was eight, far too young to lose her mother, her mind far too impressionable and fragile to deal with the world without a mother’s guidance.  They were close.  Erin has cried often imagining the heartbreak her poor little girl must have felt in her mother’s absence.

Those were the thoughts that tormented and filled Erin’s miserable life with pain, a pain worse than the aches from sleeping on a concrete floor without a pillow or blankets.  Though the thoughts she cherished so desperately brought her such sorrow, these thoughts were her will.  Without them, she very well may have given up and starved herself to death, but then again, could she?

Where and when she ate she did not know.  Every morning her stomach was full, the strange taste of whatever she was fed left in her mouth—always the same indescribably unpleasant taste.

In the same fashion as the blackouts during her feeding time was the cleaning of the bucket she used for a toilet.  Every morning when she woke, her stomach was full and the bucket clean.  It was as if she were drugged every evening before falling asleep during which time her captor cleaned and force-fed her.

As with anything in life, any situation whether it is married life or a new job, whether pleasant or unpleasant, there is an uncanny ability for people to become adjusted to their surroundings.  Erin became very much adjusted to her strange feeding and toilet cleaning blackouts.  After a while, it seemed as normal as sleeping on the floor without a pillow.

That was until now.

The idea to flee, to escape, to somehow breakout of this repulsive prison of hot muggy air-conditioner discharge dissipated after about a month.  Without any windows and nothing for ventilation more than mere whirling vents in the vaulted ceiling, Erin lost hope of breaking free.  The walls were plaster and impenetrable with her small fists.  A man could likely bust a hole in the wall but she was one hundred twenty-five pounds soaking wet, which made her attempts futile.

As she lay on the concrete with her hands laced behind her head in that dreamy state just before sleep, her thoughts mixing amongst one another incoherently, she fought to stay awake.  It was the first time she consciously tried to stay awake as sleep began to steal her away, sleep normally a small blessing.

It was in that dreamy state as she fought the sandman when she watched the shape come through the door, at least that’s what it seemed to do.  The urge to scream was immediate, but it was too late, she had fallen under the spell of sleep once again, drawing her into a state of immobility.

The next morning was much like every other morning, her stomach was full and the five-gallon bucket was emptied of her bodily waste.

There was one thing different about this morning though.  The image that was burning in her brain was different.  The image was like a fading out-of-focus Polaroid though it was clearly a man who came into her room last night.

What was he drugging her with?  It had to be her water—another mystery of the nightly blackout.  She drank from her water jug every day without a thought that it may be harming her, so she decided to go on a water strike.

Tonight she was going to be awake when her captor came to her, and she was going to play the part of the drugged captive.  Then, when he was least expecting it (he shouldn’t expect anything!) she would attack.

It was a plan at least, which was a first.

She had decided long ago that there wasn’t a surveillance system in the room.  She had plenty of time to study every inch of her domain and found it impossible to conceal a video camera; therefore she wasn’t afraid of being seen as she poured some of her water into her toilet bucket.  She poured another few ounces of water on the concrete assuming it would soak into the slab and dissipate before nighttime.  It was difficult not drinking water, near impossible, but she stuck to her plan dry mouth and all.

Laying on her back with her hands laced behind her head, identical to every other night in this hellhole, she stared at the ceiling.  With her eyes, she traced the cracks she would never forget were she to escape.  Probably she would develop a phobia of cracks and feel the compulsion to spackle them to hide the pencil thin shadow that would lead to bad memories of this place.  In those fissures was her whole life, now locked away and replaced with damnation.  The images of her childhood, her family, her daughter, all plastered on the walls of her mind in a mental collage.  She stared into those ceiling cracks night after night, searching through her memories for something forgotten that may bring her even an ounce of satisfaction and strength.  To forget her memories would be to give up.

Is tracing the jagged fissures like counting sheep? she wondered as she began to feel woozy in the head.  That dreamy, foggy state between waking and sleeping was playing with her mind, beginning to distort her thoughts and drag her consciousness into the subconscious.

There he was again—the strange man.

The door opened.  Faintly she could hear him speaking and before she could gather her thoughts together, she stood and followed him out of the room and into the rest of the house.  The door shut behind her.  She saw, drearily, the other side of the air conditioner that blew a constant flow of foul air into her cell.  The room was deathly cold.

Fighting the drunken swooning of her brain, she struggled to understand her surroundings.  Her body was moving as if ordered to do so against her will in a somnambulist trance.  It was as if she had woken up during surgery but was unable to scream for the doctor to stop.

He spoke words without moving his dry, cracked lips.  He was pale and thin, his ragged clothes hanging on his body like a shroud.  There was something about him, something mischievous and evil.  He was commanding her.  The tone and manner in which he spoke indicated a sense of routine.  And she was obliging.

I need another soul, he said to her telepathically, his cataract eyes menacing.  I need you to go out and get me another soul.  Be stealth and be quick.  Lure him here for sex and I’ll do the rest.  Then you can eat.

Erin screamed inside her mind, locked in his trance.  It wasn’t a drug he was seducing her with, it was something far worse, something dark, something evil.  She was powerless under his influence and beyond the reach of her mental warnings.

Oh my god! she screamed out in her mind as she realized just why her surroundings were so familiar.  It hadn’t struck her at first why she recognized the wallpaper in the kitchen, but as her body walked into the master bedroom she realized that she was in her home. 

How could she have been held captive in her own home? 

She found it difficult to hold on to her thoughts being how she wasn’t in control of her body.

As Erin’s body undressed and redressed into a pair of short shorts and a tank top (a very low cut tank top) she pounded on the walls of her mind with her inner voice, screaming for consciousness.  The body continued to change and ready itself to leave the house and pick up a man, just as the stranger commanded it to.

This was surely a definition of madness to be watching oneself commence without the ability to rectify the actions of ones own body.  Yet her inner voice was not mad.  Frightened and terrified, yes, but not mad.

Her body walked down the hall from the master bedroom toward the shifty figure in old tattered clothes.  Was she actually going to watch herself whore around the local bars for a horny man to take back here for the strange ghoul with the cataract eyes?  As her body picked up her purse (a purse she remembered receiving as a gift from her sister) the answer was: yes.

It had been over a year since she had seen any nature with the exception of the occasional spider or silverfish in her cell.  The air was cool and refreshing though she felt as if she were in a different cell.  She wanted to take deep breaths, run, jump, and roll around on the dew laden grass feeling the cool moisture soaking into her clothes, but her body walked in a way she had never walked before, shaking her rump from side to side like a bell—the steady persistent walk of a vixen who was ready for a one-nighter.

And just what did Mr. Creepy have in mind when she returned with her hot-blooded stud.  Did he like to watch her fuck him?  Was that it?  She thought not.  More likely he was going to murder the man.  What was it he said—I need another soul. 

Down a few blocks her body turned onto the main drag where bars and loose men were a plenty, and before she knew it, she was watching herself flirt in a way she had never known.  It wasn’t like her at all to be making eyes with men and talking so vulgarly the way her body was doing, but in no time at all she hooked one and was on his motorcycle for the two-block ride back to her house.

Her reputation must have suffered in the past year.  There was no telling how many times she had unknowingly picked up strange men in bars, and what did the neighbors think? what did her friends think? What did her family think?

Where was her family?  How she had forgotten about them she couldn’t understand, but if it was her house she was being held captive in, what happened to her family?  She didn’t want to think about that.  Their fate may may have been worse than hers.

The motorcycle came to a stop at her house, her body told him to park it in the garage.

Take me away from here!  Please, take me away from here, I beg you!  Can’t you hear me! Erin yelled and yelled to no avail.  Even as she screamed, her body was talking to the man, cooing him so he would be oblivious to what was going to happen to him once he walked into the house.

Like a disaster in slow motion, it happened.  Her body opened the front door and walked into the house, biker in tow.  As he stepped over the threshold a large brass candelabra seemed to come from nowhere crashing into his head, knocking him out cold.  

Inside, she screamed, but her body regarded the situation with the same calm one elicits for a house guest. For Erin, the act of murder was radical and horrific, however it had become clear that she had done this before.

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