Samuel regained consciousness the same way a person falls asleep, slowly at first, then altogether at once. The young man inhaled a sharp breath as his eyes flew open and he teetered on the edge of dreams and reality. His mind felt slow, as though his thoughts were moving through molasses. A numbness ran throughout his body that made him question whether or not he was actually awake. He felt as though he were floating in the depths of some inky black abyss far beneath the surface of the ocean. The amount of time he lingered in that twilight zone was lost to Samuel. Perhaps it was mere seconds, or maybe years. The natural fear of becoming trapped inside this limbo began to take hold of Samuel and he began to fight it. It drove him, as it does all humans, to shake off the peaceful, comatose state of sleep and plunge into reality.
Struggling to grip
his flickering consciousness, Samuel squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head.
Feeling began to return to the young
man’s limbs as he rose from the abyss and broke through the surface of sleep. Like most people as they awake, Samuel
instantly longed to go back into the waters of sleep. But the endless ocean
that had consumed him not a moment ago had now entirely dried up, and he was
left lying on a freezing, desolate, rough desert floor. A sharp pain enveloped the back of his head
as his skull scraped across the unforgiving barren ground.
Trying in vain to rise
off his back, the young man found himself securely fastened to the dusty rock
beneath him by his wrists and ankles. It was at this moment that a fierce panic
seized Samuel. Fear swept the fog from
his mind in one hearty gust as he began to strain against his shackles. Aiding the tempest of fear that swelled in his
chest was an ebony darkness that seemed to follow him from the realm of sleep. A pitch blackness surrounded him. The tempest rose from his chest and ripped
through his throat, finally exploding from his lips in the form of an ear
wrenching scream. The sound of his own terror stricken cry reverberated around
Samuel as he heaved deep breaths of cold, dust filled air. His yell had released the pent up fear in his
chest, but even as the last echo began to fade the trepidation that had seized him
so violently began to build once more. Another
desperate screech leapt from Samuels’s throat while he wrenched with all his
might in his restraints. He continued in
this manner, crying for help and wriggling like a madman for quite some time. It wasn’t long until Samuel’s throat was as
raw as the inflamed skin that grated under his restraints.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of lying in the darkness, a sliver of light pierced the blanket of black. Touching his chin to his chest, Samuel grimaced and squinted as the light grew. While the sliver of light expanded it was accompanied by the shrill squeal of a well-aged door. Samuel’s eyes relaxed as a shadow fell over his face and the joy that came with the sight of warm light was quickly dispersed. Framed in a hazy outline, a crooked silhouette appeared in the doorway. It sent a chill down the young man’s already frozen spine. Hunched over a cane, the figure hobbled forward slowly, carefully, as if the simple act of walking was near impossible. As the cripple stumbled towards Samuel, his eyes began to adjust to the light. It was an elderly man, wrinkled and spotted, with mere strands of white hair lacing his shriveled head. In one hand his knotted, twitching fingers clung to the top of his cane as if the stick held the man’s very life-force. In the other he gripped the handle of a tool that Samuel couldn’t quite make out at first. But then the thin tool shook as the man stumbled and a glint of light flashed against the long, serrated blade. A saw.
all of this, Samuel might have been able to remain calm, had he not locked eyes
with his captor. Truly, it was
terrifying. It was like the gaze of a
desperate, hungry animal. Whatever life
the old man had left in him was fixed in that gaze. His last hope, his last chance. Samuel’s heart began to race once more.
Stopping just a few steps away from Samuel’s feet, the old man let out a long sigh, like a train settling in at a station. Never breaking eye contact, and with apparent effort, the man began to swing the saw back and forth. Clearly in pain, the old man lurched his whole body in time with his swings. Once he had accrued the energy, he released his feeble grip on the saw and tossed it forward. Clanging loudly against the icy concrete, the saw slid up next to Samuel’s sternum. Shaking from both fear and cold, it took Samuel a moment to find his voice.
do you w-want?” Samuel whispered
hoarsely. In response the old man began
to slowly make his way downward. Leaning
heavily on his cane, the old man shook as he lowered himself to the ground. Samuel had to strain his neck to keep the man
in his vision as he sat down, his legs folding under him in awkward contortions.
With shaking, gnarled hands, the man
began to methodically roll up the leg of his pants. First his right, then his left, right up to
where the knee connects to the shin. Heaving
from the simple effort, the old man slumped over on one elbow and reached into
his pocket, allowing the light from the doorway to fall on his legs. Two, well worn, metal prosthetics glinted
eerily in the light. Sitting back up,
the legless man produced a small box and a tiny remote with a single button
from his pocket. He laid them wordlessly on the ground beside his thigh.
the old cripple regained his breath, he reached up under his pants and detached
his legs, one after another. By now he
was breathing through his mouth in thick, congested heaves. Strands of saliva crisscrossed like spider
webs inside his near toothless mouth. The
gooey strands shook as the old man shoved his two legs away from his body. Then, grabbing the palm sized box from his
side, he opened it and pulled forth a long, thick needle with clear wire strung
through its head.
stomach lurched at the sight of the needle and a bead of cold sweat rolled down
his cheek. Grabbing his cane, the man
leaned forward with a great effort. Barely able to control his shaking arm, the
old man touched the end of his cane to the base of Samuel’s left kneecap and
traced and line across it. He then
repeated the process with the young man’s right leg.
“Y-you want m-my legs?” The old man nodded slowly as he set his cane to the side. Samuel could feel the edge of the saw pressing against his ribs. “Are you g-going to cut m-my legs off?” Tears began to fill Samuels’s eyes as he shook in his restraints. The old man smiled. It was a mad, malevolent, malicious smile that made Samuel want to scream. Reaching to his back waistband the old man brought forth a small pistol. Holding the gun in one hand and the needle in the other, the man reached down and pressed the button on the small remote by his side. As the restraints on Samuels’s wrists flew open, freeing the young man’s hands, the old cripple’s smile grew even wider.
“No, my boy, you’ll be doing that yourself.”