Yakusoku took it all in, or what he could see of it anyway. The hall is long, spanning the length of the living room at the break of the stairs. A thin carpet, or a ‘runner’ as his mother calls them, lay the entire way across.
Weird thing was that the hall had these strange windows beside the doors. They’d be pretty, he supposed, if they weren’t- well- windows. There was even one for the bathroom! He glanced beyond the square box in the wall to gaze at a tub and toilet and a sink.
‘Now what is the purpose of that?’ He wondered when they passed by.
“The purpose of that is to ensure safety, my love.” Maria mouthed over her shoulder while her brain spoke to him. Turning around, she adds with a phony pout on her mouth. “Wouldn’t want our daughter to slip and hurt herself in the tub, would we?”
“And the bedrooms?” He asked. He couldn’t wait to hear the explanation on that one.
“When I say bedtime, I mean it. Besides, it's easier to watch the people you’re in charge of so they’re safe.”
Oh, it's all so damned simple to her deluded, voyeuristic mind, now isn’t it? She’s watching them, and doing God knew what along with it. Does she wanna see how miserable they are? That’s apparent without spying. So why? And that’s when the reason smacked him in the face.
‘Its so she knows she isn’t alone...’ That seemed to make him pause in his steps.
How many times has he wandered the house at night, before getting a quick midnight drink, to just make sure that his family was where they’re supposed to be? But he can just have a listen for snoring, or talking, or shifting. Maria can’t hear a thing. She can only see, but... her gift can track them, right? It must be that there’s a difference in knowing someone is there, and knowing that someone is there.
‘Wait! What am I doing? I’m sympathizing with her again. We are not the same, not in any way... I may have lonely feelings from time to time, but I’ve never been in her shoes and I never will. ...I can feel sorry, but I won’t be on her side. She’s abducted me. And she has to be made to pay.’
Yakusoku just realized what he’d done. He was in for it now, there was no way that she hadn’t heard him practically calling her a baby for her fears. What will she do? But when his spaced-out mind let his surroundings focus in, he noticed that Maria was no longer in the hall with him but instead in her bedroom checking the temperature of the shower water.
But it wasn’t checking the water that kept her from hearing him, it's that she has two little bottles of shampoo and conditioner floating in the air beside her. And it's such a freaky thing to see. How can he look at it and not be bothered at how abnormal and impossible it is, and yet, its done?
‘Maybe one of those magic revealed guys will leap out and tell me how its done. I can hear them now,’ He approaches the bedroom and steps inside. ‘Maria, our magician, has tied some fishing wire around the bedroom, and when no one is looking she’ll give the lines a tug to make various things come to her. Yeah, that’s what they’d say.’
He wanted so much to believe it that he began swiping his hand through the air, waiting to come across a little catch of wire.
“What? Is there a fly in here?” Maria asks when exiting the bathroom.
Caught, he winced like he’d been physically hit with her icy blue gaze. “I was feeling for some fishing wire.”
Looking around the room, Maria narrowed her eyes. It wasn’t in anger, but more like concern. “You’re weird.” She replied, obviously not understanding what he’d meant when he said he was looking for wires. “Well, go on. Get in. Tub’s all set.”
“Maria... surely there’s something else you want from me. I honestly wasn’t even playing that stupid-...” Okay. Bad choice of words. But it's already out there, so he may as well keep going. “game. That game. So you really can’t expect me to-...”
And someone had shoved him from behind! Hard enough to move him forward through the bedroom, making it look like a blur, and hard enough to shove him right through the bathroom entrance and over to the tub. Wires couldn’t do that.
Yakusoku steadied his beating heart to a normal pace and let his eyes cruise around the bathroom. The floor is checkered in some odd salmon color and cream, the sink and toilet are a cream color the same as the tiles. The walls have wallpaper on them, it looks like a waving sand pattern, but it matched everything. It's hideous while being odd... quaint.
“I said get in,” Maria commanded more forcefully.
Closing his eyes to steady himself, he grips the edge of the tub. The warm spray of shower water does feel inviting to his worn, cold bones. Fine. He’ll get in. What’s the harm? Opening his eyes, he steps into the white porcelain tub and just sighed. It does feel good. Each little pitty-pat smacking into his brick wall of a body. Droplets of water are probably the only thing he’s stronger than in this house. With the way he feels, even Atsuko could square up and kick his ass.
“Are you kidding me?” Maria snapped him out of his inner thoughts.
Turning his head, his looks at her with a question.
“If I knew you were such a bore in the shower I would have asked for something else.” She went on saying. “Wash! Rub your hands over yourself... get into that hair- I’ve given you shampoo and conditioner. Gimme a little show.”
‘A show...’ Sighing in annoyance, he washes some water up his right arm, then his left.
Maria rolled her eyes to the ceiling, then leaned over on the toilet where she’s seated to pop her head against the back bowl top.
Yakusoku almost slipped and crack his skull open on the soap holder when an actual whimper came from her bored throat. He would never get used to his ears hearing her. It was freaky that he never once thought about it until being around her, and hearing actual sounds being made. He should have known, though. Should have felt the difference 2 years ago when she’d first come into his life. But he didn’t. He was blinded by her mystery, her loneliness, her growing presence.
“Promise, really. Do something more entertaining...” Cocking her head, she smirks wickedly. “Unless of course, you want me to help you? It would defeat the purpose of my show, but I have always wanted to shower with you.” And she grinned at the very idea of their naked bodies, standing wet together.
“I don’t know what you want!” He snapped at her. “I’m washing like you asked! If it's boring, that’s really your problem, because this is how I wash up.”
“Well, make it sexier.”
“What sexier!? I don’t know how to be sexy!”
“Oh puh-leeze. What’s with all this nonsense? You’ve attracted more than enough women as far I’ve seen.”
“All the little giggling, boob bouncing heifers at school.” She crosses her arms.
“Yeah, they like me and damned if I know why. I sure as hell am not attracting them in any way that I can notice.”
Maria scoffed. “You don’t think you’re attractive? Guys like you are always so self-aware.”
“Now it's my turn to ask if you’re kidding? I don’t think I’m attractive. I’ve got a canine that comes too far out of row, my nose short, my feet haven’t caught up with the rest of me yet, I’ve got a birthmark on my neck that everyone thinks is dirt at first glance, my hair is a damned mess, and... and I don’t know... I just don’t get why people bother with me.”
Maria smiled. Creepy enough, it was a sweet and honestly kind smile. She didn’t look like someone who should be in a padded cell and hugging herself with the aid of a white jacket. “That.” And she points at him. “Is why you’re so attractive. You don’t think you are, so you’re not arrogant. You shield yourself whenever someone is looking at you... Promise, you’re gorgeous inside and out... All the things you think look weird, are actually really attractive. I used to think that out-of-line tooth of yours was silver capped; it would shine in lighting, so I always watched your mouth when you spoke so I could see it. You should think about getting it plated.”
Yakusoku raised a brow at how ridiculous that sounded.
But she continued smiling, resting her elbow on the toilet bowl, her cheek on her fist as if to admire him from a better angle. “Now, show me a sexy bathtime or I’ll-...”
“I know, I know. Don’t worry about anything to do with an “I’ll” if I don’t. I can clean myself in an entertaining way.” And he rolled his eyes mentally with every word he’d said. ‘Now, how the hell do you wash in a sexy way?’
He thought back to that porno he and Chester saw, with the two women in the shower. That got Maria laughing, which made him blush something fierce with embarrassment. Wiping the thought from his mind, he washes his hands up his arms then over his torso as the women had done to each other. Surely THAT looks attractive.
But rather than ooh and ahh, Maria was instead cracking up at the sight of him. It was very... disheartening. He liked it better when she scoffed at him and made threats. It made his hands wash over him a lot faster, and the open glass door wasn’t blocking the water from splashing all over the place.
By the time the captive male started washing his hair with the floral scented shampoo, his captor provided for him, Maria was wiping tears and absolutely trembling with laughter. And Yakusoku had taken the embarrassment for long enough.
“Alright! What the hell is so funny?!” He snapped; suds from his shampoo slide all over his head causing him to wink an eye avoiding having it burned by shampoo chemicals. “I’m doing as you asked. ...No need to humiliate me about it.”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry. It's just so funny!” And she laughed for a moment more, having to hold up a hand to show that she was steadying herself. “Haven’t you ever touched yourself before?”
Lowering his eyes with embarrassment, he sighs. “I tried once, but... I wasn’t into it... I’m just not that sexual a person. I’ll watch it, and when it's happening I enjoy it but...” He shrugged. “And besides, why would I need to do something like that when I’ve got this flock of girls coming on to me, as you put it.” He watches his dirt flow down the length of the tub, where it swirled, then went down the drain. Defeated, he asks quietly. ”Is that what you want? You want me to touch myself?”
“It would help, but... not just that... caress yourself while you wash. Be languid... want to do it.” Parting her knees, she gently runs her fingertips up her thigh. “Think of something you'd want to have done to yourself, think of someone you’re hot for doing it to you. And go from there.” Her eyes sharpen then, meeting angrily with his own. “But remember, my love, I’m watching you.”
And by ‘you’ she meant his mind.
‘Oh God... don’t think about Enid. Don’t think about Enid.’ He coached himself.
Shooting a glance at his viewer, he wondered if she’d heard that. But it didn’t seem as if she had, or at least she put up a front that she hadn’t. Yakusoku hadn’t had a thought to himself since being brought here. It's disarming.
“Get on with it!” Maria snapped.
Yakusoku yelped from a start; Maria jerked his penis three times with her mind with a grip strong enough to snap it off. “Sorry.” He muttered and tried to think of someone he’s attracted too, that could get him worked up. But then again, if he thought of someone that works him up, Maria would see and know it isn’t her, and she’d be pissed.
‘Fine. I’ll distract myself with something nice... anything...’ Then it hit him. ‘Music! I hear sexy songs all the time over the radio!’
With that in mind, he thought about a song by some rapper or R&B singer, but it wasn’t working. He thought about that song from that Japanese artist Namie Amuro. Yeah. Want me, Want me is really sexy. But, rather than think about sex, he instead thought about the video he’d seen on Youtube. Okay. Songs with words don’t help.
Something classical then? And Ludwig popped into mind right then; he was the only classical music he knew at the moment. Ludwig smiled at him in that ‘I know I said something stupid, but I was just messing around’ smirk of his. Raising his bow, posture straight, he began to play. And Yakusoku remembered the tune.
His hands glide up and down his body to the sway of the music, over his chest, down his legs. He begrudgingly touched his member with little jerks as he cleaned the filth from it. But his eyes remained closed. He isn’t about to watch himself doing this shameful act. It was one thing when Gev did it, who cared! But he himself would never, but apparently ‘never’ comes with the exception of being forced, which he is.
His eyes snap open when a melody hit his ears. He turned his head and found that Maria had stepped into the bedroom to put on some classical music for him. When she returned, she smiled at him. “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted music? It's better than watching a guy playing violin... that’s disgusting. It's like you’re jerking off to him.”
“Shut up!” He barked. He’d had enough of this bullshit by now, and was ready to get out. Hasn’t she been satisfied yet? “I’m sick of you insulting me, and insulting my friends! Get a life Maria! And stay out of mine... Seriously.”
“Myyy wasn’t that a proud outburst.” She clapped her hands. “Pointless, but proud.” She added. Shaking her head, Maria then snickers. “I can insult your friends all I like... there’s little and nothing that you can do about it. And by the time I’m done with you, you won’t even remember their names... I’m sure everyone else has forgotten about that Russian mutt, Gev.”
“What are you talking about?” He groaned.
“Or I should say...” And she continued pretending she hadn’t heard him. “the late Russian mutt.”
That got his attention. The only thing “Late” means is... “What did you do to him?”
“Oh, I think you mean what did he do to himself, my love.” And she spat as she spoke. “He let his addiction run his life, and it took it.”
Despite the hot water running over him, he felt ice cold and numb. It isn’t true. There’s no way its true!
“He wanted to stop using, but... tisk tisk, he had to have one last ride-high before giving it up.”
Shaking, he’s now shaking because of the cold! Why is it so damned cold in here all of a sudden?
“Although...” This made her chuckle. “I have to say that I somewhat helped the situation along.” Without a pause to give him time to ask what that meant, she went on. “I made myself look like a gorgeous dark haired vixen to his dealer, let myself in and asked him if he could mix a little something together for a friend of mine. He didn’t want to at first, but... let’s just say, I knew how to head in the right direction when it came to getting things from that man. One blowjob and he fed your friend a nice little stick of candy.”
“Stop it... shut up! I don’t believe you!”
“Gev puffed away and went to school... such a shame. Being out in the cold only delayed him until he got home, and then... splat!” Her grin could bite through concrete- a clean sever! “His heart stopped, and he’s no more.”
“I don’t believe you... you’re just trying to piss me off.” He grit. But his head is bowed, he can see it all happening. Gev would give himself one last hurrah before quitting- or attempting to quit.
It was like the cold snap had melted and now he’s boiling, hotter than the water even. And his head is pounding with rage in a want to take action! So he hadn’t heard it cracking, but the glass door of the shower has lines tracing through its thick frosted plate, and in one foul groan it shattered and splintered out toward the murderous girl at full force!
Maria watched it come, but she didn’t move out of the way. Instead, the shards smacked into her shattering into dust, all but the first one that sliced her on the cheek before it flew by and smashed into the wall behind her.
Chest heaving because of his hard panting, Yakusoku looks around confused by what had happened. Why would she throw some glass at herself? Was she really that insane? “You... lying bitch!” He barked at her.
Shaking his head, he felt like crying. Would that make him a sissy? His greatest friend is dead, after all? Who can feign hard knowing something like that? Nope. Not cry. Throw up. He leaned off to the side where the drain was and drained his stomach. The chili he’d had a while ago gushed from his throat, stinging his throat along with the back of his nose.
“So... it would seem anger is the key. Hmhm...” It was a small chuckle. “And here I thought it would only take our minds communicating with each other to do it... but my goodness, you’re a steel trap.”
“Will you stop saying dumb shit like that!” He practically screamed. “You shattered that glass yourself! I’m not some damned freak!”
“Oh, what? The piece of shit who’s too good to hang around with someone, who actually likes him, doesn’t want to take credit for cutting my face? Promise... I’m flattered.”
“Flattery is only used to shut up stupid people who won’t stop talking, or behaving insecurely. Are you stupid, Maria?” He ground out, as he spat the chunkier bits of vomit from his mouth. “If you only knew how badly I wanna be away from you, you’d of killed me by now.” He turns his head so he can glare at her. “Because you couldn’t pay me all the money the world to wanna be around you by choice! I... would rather... be DEAD!”
That did it.
And it was that instant, his head whipped around, snapping his neck with a resounding thwack. Blood drooled from his mouth produced from the veins and tendons being torn from having stretched too far around, and he fell heavily to the bottom of the tub in his vomit and dirty water. Dead. Gone. Free...
Yakusoku sucked in a deep breath then began to cough. What happened? What the hell just happened?! He... he’s alive? But, he was sure he was dead. Cold. Unmoving. The end game. He’d see Gev, and Gev would say “dude, I knew I’d find you- tch, fucked up that it's this way” or some shit. But he’s alive?
“Isn’t it amazing what a gifted mind can do?” Maria replied to his puzzled look. “Send images. Send faces. Hn. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been around you without you even noticing me, and it was as simple as messing with your head. Remember that neighborhood brat who stayed over that night... what was it Dustin?”
‘How? It couldn’t have been...’ He thinks.
“But it was. Didn’t you think it was weird that he had no idea what you were talking about? That he would shove his hand down your pants at all!? I used him to get in close, and get in close.” Standing, Maria heads over to the tub kneeling down beside it; glass crunched under her footsteps. “I was seated across from you in the T.H.A.T meetings, and you didn’t notice me. I talked a waiter out of serving you at The Hut- drawing naked pictures of the girls at school for your perverted friends... disgraceful. Maybe, I’ll forgive that... if we can play Titanic, and you draw me nude.” Grinning; she grabbed him by the chin. “I’ll even let you decorate your cell with it.”
And for Yakusoku, THAT did it. He felt the sting of tears and just let them fall.
“Oh, what? Still not willing to get along? Would you rather I kill you in a more gruesome way?”
Yakusoku shook his head, surprised that he’d heard her. “I just wanna go home.”
“Well, you can’t go home!” She shouts. “You will never go home, so just forget about it already!”
Defeated; and in mental pain, Yakusoku shakes his head. “Please, Maria... I... you can’t have killed him.”
“But I didn’t kill him, remember? He killed himself.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“Hn. Well, come downstairs and hear for yourself. I’ll let you call his house.” Jerking him by his chain, she pulls him from the tub like a disobedient dog caught lounging on its master’s bed.
The glass dug deep into the souls of his feet, cutting them and stabbing them up as he made his way from the bathroom into the bedroom. Every whimper he made from the pain had Maria jerking him along with more urgency. He was nearly thrown down the straight shoot of stairs, as he tripped and stumbled alongside her.
So much for modesty. Atsuko and Lucian both turned their heads to the commotion of Maria and his self, coming down the stairs.
“There! Call his house.” She shoves him at her weird looking phone.
He’s never seen one with a screen before- well- there was an episode or two of Pokemon where he’s seen a phone like this. Will it show the speaker? Could he have a chance of being seen?
“Don’t get your hopes up honey bunch, this is an Intel for the deaf or elderly who don’t hear so well. It displays the speaker's words on the screen. I can type what I want to say and a machine says it for me. A clever little invention, don’t you think?” She removed a cover from the number and keys panel.
He actually was impressed, to be honest. And he could guess that little covering was impossible to remove without having a gift, much like the door couldn’t be opened without a gift. Damn Fort Knox.
“Now, go on, call your little friend and see for yourself.”
Shaking hands reach for the numbers of the phone’s base. Pressing Gev’s number, he waited out the rings. But when Mrs. London said ‘Hello’ Maria took the receiver and held it to Lucian. “Say anything,” And this was to Yakusoku. “And I’ll let you know what it feels like to have a chainsaw snap your spine in two.” Looking at Lucian, she says. “Ask for Gev.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Phone pressed to his ear, he asks in a low tone. “Hello. Is Gev there?”
Maria then pressed the phone to Yakusoku’s ear so he could hear Mrs. London weeping on the other end, in response. “Gev is not with us, I’m sorry.”
And Maria hung up the phone. It was worse than hearing about it. He now knows it for a fact. He’s dead. She had him killed.
“Glad you’re finally starting to understand. The more you resist, the more people you’ll lose. And the more people you lose,” she grabbed him by the face. “the less likely you’ll have anyone to want to return home to. ...So... are we gonna behave now?”
Nodding. Yakusoku choked back his tears. A pitiful sight, sobbing on his hand and knees.
“Good. Lucian, I have to go out for a while. Take Promise back to his room.”
“No. No don’t hurt anyone else!” He snaps. Stumbling towards the kitchen, where his chain is jerking him, he shouts and screams at her. “Maria! Leave my family alone!” His chest heaved as panic shot his adrenaline through the roof. “I’m sorry I wasn’t taking you seriously! I will now! I will!”
The table launched itself across the kitchen smacking into the door frame.
“Aah!” He cried out when Lucian’s fist met with the back of his head. “Stop it, you fucking freak! Maria! Don’t hurt anybody else!”
But she isn’t listening, she instead told Atsuko to head upstairs, before she walked out the front door.
“No! Nooo!” He struggled and grunted on pained, bleeding feet as he’s dragged away from the warmth of upstairs. And from the knowledge that Maria won’t do anything shifty.