Balloon Man

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Chapter 28

Papite opened his eyes yet all he could see was little blips lights in the darkness. At first, he thought they must stars and that he was stretched out on the ground looking up at them. He opened his mouth to speak and realized he couldn’t, and that’s when he panicked.

He felt something in his mouth. Tears rolled down his cheeks—he was gagged. Papite felt very ill, and when he tried to move his hands, discovered he was trapped.

As his eyes adjusted to the pin lights, the sickening horror he was seeing from inside of something made the tears come faster.

“Can’t freak out now! We’ve got to get out of here!”

Papite focused on the wad of cloth in his mouth. He pushed with his tongue, moving his head from side to side then up and down. Push. Move. Push. Squirm. Finally, the pressure changed as the cloth slipped down from his dry lips. On instinct, he tried to wiggle his hands and feet, to clamor out of wherever he was, but it was no use. He felt the cold dirt between his toes and fingers; smelled it under his nose. The oppressive heat from the thing over his head made him dizzy.

“Help! Can anyone hear me?” Papite called out. Papite heard a muffled noise from his right. “It that you Remy?” More muffled noise. “Use your tongue Remy! Push it out of your mouth with your tongue.”

Remy opened his eyes at the sound of Papite’s voice. He tried to answer back, but something stinky and heavy filled his mouth. It was dark except for small rays of lights. Remy didn’t concentrate on seeing. He focused on getting out whatever was in his mouth. He tried to move his arms but they wouldn’t budge. Horror struck him and he thought, “I’m in the punishment hole!”

Thrashing his head side to side, Remy attempted to remove the gag. He jerked and shook so hard his head thumped in agony. A weird taste filled his mouth and it took Remy a few seconds to recognize it was the coppery taste of blood. All the thrashing must have made his head bleed again.

Remy concentrated on Papite’s words to use his tongue. Papite wasn’t helping him so Remy figured he was in the same spot of trouble. Remy pushed on the gag with his tongue with all his might, yet nothing happened. It was too tight.

He tried moving his lower jaw around as much as he could. After a few tries, the gag finally slid down to his chin area. “Papite! I did it! Oh, God, where are we? Are we in the punishment holes? How did we get here?”

“I don’t know, Remy. I don’t remember anything. Do you?”

“Only sitting on the chair and drinking some nasty stuff. Oh, Papite, I can’t move and my hands are numb behind me. I can’t feel anything from my neck down but I can turn my head a little. Oh, I see outside and there’s a pail over your head just like mine! We have to try to wiggle loose and get out of here!”

“Shh,” Papite whispered. “I hear somebody. Grab the gag with your teeth and hold it. Pretend you’re sleeping!”

Remy and Papite both lost control of their bladders when they saw Cooter—and what he was carrying.

Another boy.

All of a sudden Cooter took a stick and started banging on top of the pails, “Why am I hearing noises? You two shut up and stay that way!”

Remy and Papite closed their eyes and mouths, weeping silently.

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