By Audrie Bretl Roelf
This was not the scene she remembered: gray ceiling, brown water stains, cracks…the usual signs that point to years of neglect. She felt the carpet; a bit damp and a lot crusty. How was it possible to be both damp and crusty? It took a certain type of decay, she imagined.
Nothing appeared to be broken but the ringing in her ears and pounding in her head told her all was not well – and there was the issue of lost time and not knowing where the hell she was. No voices, no light, just a dank, dirty smell and lots of questions.
She left the car by the side of the road. It had been faithful but you can only kick a dog so many times before he bites. And bite it had – all smoke and flames before coming to a dead halt. It was after 10 on a Sunday night on I-80; what chance did she have of grabbing a ride?
Obviously, running down the median with a tiny suitcase and backpack made her look like a mark. She had no choice but to find shelter, a ride, some food…any or all of the above. As she ran, she looked up and saw a sign, Secret Fantasies. She had a few of those but not the kind they were selling. Right now, her fantasy was a hot bath and some bubbles which she could probably get there if she were willing to service a trucker or two.
She was no stranger to the odd proclivities of others. There was the time she was out with her friends playing darts and drinking; a usual Saturday night. She thought to go out at the last minute. She was ready for bed when her friend texted and asked to meet up. She threw on her Ramones tee, pulled her hair back, slapped on some eye liner, and bolted out the door.
She noticed him sitting at the bar but didn’t think anything of it until he sauntered over to the table. “I’m going to sit with you guys. It feels weird sitting at the bar alone,” he shrugged and laughed. His teeth were jacked.
“Yeah, man. Whatever,” Aaron said, throwing (and missing) the next shot. He was an amiable guy, always willing to welcome a new soul. The guy made small talk, had a couple of cigarettes, and seemed nice enough. After a bit they stood to walk to another bar. He followed.
“You guys together?”
Aaron shook his head.”No, man. Why you ask?”
“Body language, I guess.”
“We’re friends. I tattoo her, so I guess we’re kinda close.” She shoved him and grabbed his arm.
“The next time someone asks something like that; we ARE together!” She snarled.
“Right on,” Aaron agreed and went to put his arm around her.
“Too late,” she growled and huffed ahead.
Later that night, the guy talked both of them into going back to his apartment. He lured Aaron with the promise of pizza and beer. A student of human nature, she was just curious. She wanted to believe in humanity despite the mess of the world.
Long story ended with both her and her companion hauling ass down an empty street trying to get away from the guy in the horse head mask, brandishing a butcher knife. So much for being a good judge of character.
A smile waved across her face as she thought about the absurdity of it all. People…No wonder God sent the flood.
Then there was the time the old man walked up to her and her best friend as they walked out of the mall. He asked if he could pay Kay a compliment. That ended in the perv taking photos of Kay’s feet for about 10 minutes and telling her how gorgeous they were. Flood part deux.
If she hadn’t been amusing herself with these anecdotes, she may have heard the car. She may have felt the hair on the back of her neck stand at attention.
She remembered a van with no seats. Her wrists and head screamed. She still smelled whatever was on the rag hanging in the air. She knew better and this is what she was telling herself when light began to peek through the windows.
“Wakey, wakey. Time to play.” That horrible smell again. She couldn’t see him but she knew he was there. What little light crept in under the blindfold went dark.
Gasping for air, she woke in what she could only surmise was a bathtub of ice. Her body felt hot against the extreme cold. “We’re done for now.”
He grabbed her by the hair and pulled her from the tub. Her body lagged behind as she slid toward another room, the carpet scraping her up and down. What was hiding in this carpet? It couldn’t be good.
Another night, she lay still watching bits of light slide across the wall in quick succession. It was so very cold and there was nothing to cover herself. She heard rustling in the next room and braced for his return, but he never came…Rolling to her other side she felt the pain of her missing limb. She hoped she bled to death before she found out the rest of his plans.
There was no concept of time but it seemed as if days passed. She had survived on the scraps of leftover fast food he brought her, if she were lucky. He brought a bucket for water for drinking but her bodily functions took place on the carpet. It didn’t seem to matter much to him. She was allowed to pull herself around the floor now that there was little chance of her escape. Her arms were getting quite strong from the constant army crawl.
It’s amazing what the human body gets used to. The frequent beatings didn’t weren’t as painful and if she didn’t struggle, his rutting was swift. The scars from his cigarettes gave small relief for the next extinguishing. The hot iron wasn’t so bad once you got used to it – at least it was quick. But she still hated it when he washed her with bleach after finishing. It was kind of him to leave her untied now though. The rope was creating a crevice in her wrists that he didn’t care for.
After playing, he always washed her. Due to the lack of running water he brought more buckets. It was cold but refreshing to her tired body. Before the bleach, he washed her hair and it was nearly pleasant as he brushed it out for her before expertly apply her makeup. He liked her to look presentable before and after play. He would allow her to focus in the mirror for just a minute before dousing her in the bleach. It hurt her more to remember who she once was.
Nights had passed and he hadn’t returned. She was hungry and cold and the animals were becoming more brazen as they would approach to sniff and chew at the bandages on her stumps. She felt betrayed because they had lived together so long now; it was like a friend forsaking her. Nature and the circle of life. We’re all just animals after all – this had become abundantly clear.
Thankful for the light of the vehicles passing, she crawled around the room until she found a door. At this point, it didn’t matter where it led; this was her last chance to feel the outdoors again. She reached up and turned the knob. How long had it been unlocked?
Autumn air rushed passed her as she pulled herself over the threshold and on to the balcony collapsing onto her back. As what she believed to be a semi passed, she caught a glimpse of a long-forgotten sign calling for travelers to stop and rest – they had free cable TV – at the Pine Tiki Inn.
This is our new Wicked Short Stories page with submissions from various Authors. Please look for bio-snippets about the Author at the bottom of the various pieces. Enjoy!