In the Mouth of Madness
Mona had recognized that Robert had lost his mind a long time ago. She’d been around enough mentally ill people to know what it looked like. This was clearly insanity. Doing something about it was a different matter. He was bigger, stronger, had a mean right hook. A mean temper too. She was good in a fight, but he outweighed her by at least a hundred pounds… she had to go along with him. She was terrified. Everything about herself that had come back while travelling with Jasper had died since that day in the camp. Every time Robert smashed her in the face or the stomach she went back to the little girl she had been, the one in the trailer park whose mother had terrorized her, beaten her randomly because she wanted to. The only thing she had to protect herself was sex. If she fucked Robert, if she did it well, he would be calm, at least briefly. Also, he was good at it. Made her cum, again and again, every time. It was the only respite though, the only source of peace. It brought her right back to trading her body for meth, or booze before that.
She wished she had the strength to stop him, the courage to run away, something. Instead, she took it.
Trevor also seemed broken. The young soldier was never very smart, or good with people… but he at least had a light in his eyes once. Now he didn’t. He barely ever spoke, just replied when Robert asked a question, usually with a single word. He followed orders unthinkingly, like a robot. Between Robert and the road, Trevor was no longer present, had nothing left inside. Mona could tell. She had seen guys like him before. People who just stopped being people with enough abuse. Sometimes she wondered if someone else would see her like that. Most of the time she assumed they would.
Robert left. Mona knew she should warn the building, warn Jasper and Naomi, about what was coming. There was nobody in the world who had ever been kinder to her. She just couldn’t make herself do it. What if Trevor decided to stop her? What if Robert came back and she was still outside? She waited, perched on the edge of indecision, stuck between knowing what she wanted, what she should do, and the fear. In the end, the fear won. She lay down curled up in a ball and hoped that she would die before Robert got back.
She didn’t. He returned with a bunch of bottles and things and went into the bathroom, muttering to himself. His once handsome face was now a mass of sores and dirt, she didn’t think he knew. He’d been picking at his own skin for a while, probably a reaction to the constant filth that was his new normal state. His beard was long and unkempt. She was pretty sure he had fleas, then again so did she, the itch was contributing to her breakdown.
She waited, lying there in the half light, listening to his muttering, smelling the acrid chemical smells. Trevor was keeping watch on the door, making sure nobody, living or otherwise, came in to interrupt them.
Mona started crying, making sure to stay silent, so Robert didn’t hear her.