She was happy five years ago. She had once again hope for the new life. She was finally free from the clutches of the monster. She knew that moving on would be tough for her. But she was ready to cross all the hurdles laid on her path. She could feel that something was there inside her soul, some power inside her, which once again persuaded her to brighten the flame of her life, which was extinguished by darkness of that monster.
Someone once told her, that no matter how much strength darkness had, to capture everyone under its thick evil quilt, to the brim of suffocation, but still, even a small flame of a candle held the power to destroy the quilt.
Now, she had decided that she would be that flame of a candle. She was physically free from that dark room, that dark life, that dark monster, that gilded cage whose bars had always taunted her.
She would try her best to be mentally free as well, from that life.
Traces of those memories would be always in back of her mind, no doubt in it. But she would never allow them to hinder her path of light. She would enlighten herself. She would overcome all her fears.
And she did overcome all her fears. Finally, a new blissful life started.
But that was only for a short period of a time.
A candle flame could only diminish a small fleck of darkness. She was once again suffocating. Dark power was again sucking out her soul. Dark monster had come back, now with thousand times more strength, his darkness. She was once again in a cage. But this cage was different. Earlier the cage was gilded, at least the space from between the bars, allowed her to take a glimpse of the outside world. But now, the cage in which she was living was covered completely, even a peak was not allowed.
She realized that she was going to die soon. It was not possible for a person to live inside a conspicuous, completely covered cage with no hole for the pass of light and air.
But she also realized that it was her own fault. If she never forsook that monster, maybe she would have the fortune to live more. As to be trapped inside the gilded cage was better.
She wanted it back. She didn’t want to live freely nor she wanted to be trapped in the cage forever. She understood now, the reason of monster trapping her. She agreed with him. She was waiting for the clock to struck twelve at midnight. She was looking forward to be inside that gilded cage again.
“Zola,” a manly voice screamed fearfully.
When she heard that name, she started shaking in to and forth motion. Her limbs started trembling. How could a person enter in this room? It was not possible. Destructive webs made by the poisonous spiders never allowed anyone to enter in this room.
‘How dare he to enter this room?’ she thought. Only she was the one, who deserved to be inside the black cage. She got mad at herself to get scared. If she would be scared, then she would die. He didn’t like her to be scared from others. She was worthy to be the prey of that monster, every midnight. Earlier, also people tried to take her place but she was weak at that time. But, now, she had the power.
She would kill, whoever tried to take her place. She wished the glass cage was not covered from the outside so that she could have some fun before the midnight. Or, maybe she could have fun in this state also.
She turned back towards the direction of that scared voice. She was sitting on the floor, her hands laid on the surface of the cage that was covered with a black sheet. Because of less space, she could only afford to move her neck. The voice was pleasant to her ears. It was a familiar voice. It was soothing, a strange calmness she felt. She didn’t like it. Monster’s voice was better. It excited her, gave her the courage to hunt; that was hunting her own self.
Yes, this was the only option to survive. And to pass time also. He taught her, that meat shouldn’t be wasted. She learnt it after giving him a hard time.
She could see the silhouette of him, near the doorstep of the room. But it was not moving. Maybe, that familiar man was thinking of leaving the room. Good for him.
Cage was beside the bed, inside the room. Maybe, he was observing that huge animal sized cage covered with sheet. That what was cage doing inside. But he couldn’t guess even in his dreams that a girl was inside it.
“Zola,” that man called for her again. Abruptly a thought came into her mind. If he somehow entered into the room but how could he see her. She was covered. This thought of someone able to see her and also knowing her was frightening. What if he came for her? NO, she wouldn’t leave him.
He also seemed very panicked. What does he want, she thought angrily? Even the voice was familiar, she wasn’t able to recognize it. But the thought that shook her to the core was, how did he know she was in the room, inside the cage? No one was able to found her? How is it possible?
Aaron was revolted by the sight of the room. But, the feeling of horror surpassed it. Miss Camilla told him there was a surprise waiting for him inside the room. What kind of a sick prank is this?
The feeling of dread had fused in his body. Any sane person after watching this, sickening sight would run for his life. But, he couldn’t. He wanted to help Zola. They were giving her a treatment worse than an animal. He remained standing for a minute on the doorstep. He clutched the door knob tightly by his hands to steady himself. His legs were immobilized. He wanted to help her, but he wasn’t able to move. He felt that his heart was beating very rapidly, sweats beads adorned his forehead. The way he was clutching the knob by his hands, palm had also become sweaty. There was only left two options for him-
To run back from here or save her.
If he be honest with himself, he wanted to run. He would never come back here. Once, there was a time when Aaron was fond of her and also secretly tried to covet her. But she was dating a man, who had a very bad reputation in the town. That man had no single good bone in his body. He was a butcher in the local meat shop during the day and prostitute at the night. His exceptionally good looks attracted all different types of cougars.
He knew it and used it to his maximum benefit. Later on, he left the job at meat shop also. That man thought there was no need to work and he was right. Those high society women spend a hefty amount on him, in the name of the love. They would fight like wild cats for him.
He lived a lavish lifestyle. But not Zola. Zola was in rags. Whenever Aaron tried to tell about Earle to her, she blatantly ignored him. Her loyalty to Earle never deterred. The reason of this was still unknown to Aaron.
So, Aaron stepped back and started disliking her for her immense stupidity.
And again, after five years, he saw her again. He didn’t want to step inside the room. But, standing at the doorstep was not also better. The smell of sweat, piss and blood were unbearable to him.
The room has no source of light, walls were of pukish color green and she was squatted down facing one of those ugly walls. Her back was facing him and her healthy brown locks were cut down in a haphazard fashion up to her neck. He suddenly realized that she was stark naked and her body side which was visible to him was decorated by deadly marks. Those marks were not due to any knife or other weapons. Those were by someone’s nails. At some places even the skin was punctured. Her body seemed yellowish and even the spinal bones were visible to him.
He covered his nose with a handkerchief and moved forward, eyes remained on her. His gut was warning him that surroundings was not safe. The girl was looking mad. He ignored his gut and, on the way, something hit his knee. It happened suddenly, he loses balance and fall down right behind her with oomph sound.
It was a chair on the middle of the room. He thought that a plain chair couldn’t attract his attention against the horrible sight, that was why he fall down.
Zola got startled by the sudden noise. Earlier, when she didn’t hear her name again, she thought that the person has went away. She held her knees more tightly and tried to be appear small. Zola didn’t look back, even for a second to check what fall down near her. But she was aware that there was a man very close to the cage. Aaron steady himself immediately and was going to touch her shoulders to gain her attention but his hands stopped in the midair.
He noticed the wall in front of them. He gulped loudly and with a loud ear-piercing scream he fell back. It was a dead cat, hanging to the wall with the help of a large knife that was stuck in her neck, differentiating between her head and the lower body. The stomach of the cat had large deep cut; all the organs could be seen. It looked like a work of a taxidermist. That now this cat would be stuffed by some foreign material. The dead cat was a Persian breed and if he was not wrong, it was Cindy, Zola’s pet.
He was still partially lying down on the floor. His whole body was numb by the fear. He didn’t realize when tears started flowing down by the fear, until he tasted the saltiness in his mouth. The site was difficult for him, maybe if he found such a dead animal brutally slit open in somewhere wild, he would have not reacted so strongly. But, the air around the room was so terrific and the person’s condition; the way she was calmly facing that wall, where her dearest kitty as Zola used to call her, was slit open; it was all horrendous for him.
He didn’t dare to stand up. He thought to slide back to the door. He didn’t want her to observe his footsteps. He was in impression that maybe she was so fatigued that she didn’t hear him. But now he didn’t know that if she didn’t hear him or ignoring him. It would be good, if she didn’t hear him, he thought. Suddenly, the smell became more pungent. He hastily looked around himself; his handkerchief had fallen somewhere. He decided to leave that. He didn’t want that fallen handkerchief on the floor, to cover his nostrils.
“Aaron,” Zola spoke. Her voice was very gruff, it was very close to a masculine voice. He felt like she had become a chain-smoker, that was the reason of her so bad voice. He still remembered her sweet melodious voice. If Earle allowed her, he was sure, that she would be a popular singer.
“Where are you?” she asked, still not turning towards his direction. Aaron remained rooted at his position. Contemplating should he run back or stay here. No sane person in his place would stop even for a mere second, but this was Zola. She was once a kind girl. He pitied her condition and was furious at Miss Camilla for not treating her well. Aaron was damn sure that Miss Camilla knew that she had gone mentally unstable but still not take her to the doctor. Society was always hard to those who had nothing. Same was for Zola. She had no parents, no relatives and Earle was also no more. Though Earle was a sick bastard and never took care of Zola. But he acknowledged Zola as her women. If he would also leave her, then she would die all alone in such a agonizing state.
Zola didn’t deserve it.
With all these thoughts, Aaron decided to take Zola downstairs. He considered that Zola was unstable and she could harm her, if he wanted to. But Zola was looking malnourished and he could easily overpower her by his strength. He was still scared but move forward. He didn’t want to touch her, because she was creeping him out. So, he decided her to call her and to ask her to come towards him.
He opened his mouth but no voice came from it. He gulped. He then again opened his mouth and finally called her with a wavering voice. No reply came. But he saw that her shoulders were trembling and she was moving more towards the wall. As, if she wanted her body to fuse with the wall. Her head collided with the lower half of Cindy’s body. And it fell down into Zola’s lap. Zola didn’t react to it. As if nothing happened with her. As there was no lower part hanged to the wall by the help of a knife, a thick line of heavy blood glided towards her from the wall.
“Aaron, help me. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to be inside this cage,” she stammered and continued, “Please open this cage and let me out, I beg you.” She continued crying in her gruff voice and never took a glance at him.
Aaron was shocked after hearing her. If possible, his eyes would have widened infinite times. Jesus, what had happened to her? Is there will be a day in future when she would be back to her original self, he pondered. Then, a thought came into her mind. Maybe she was calling this room a cage. Yes, this was what she meant; he tried to justify her remark that this was the only reason, even when he knew that it was wrong.
Aaron lightly said, as if the loud voice would trigger her, “Zola, look towards me, I have opened the cage now. You can come out.” He paused before each word, tried to coax her that she was safe now in his presence, though he was not feeling safe in her presence.
“You opened the cage,” Zola suddenly asked in a cheerful voice which was mismatching with the room environment and her physique. This voice and abrupt change of attitude, made him shiver. He unconsciously moved back towards the door of the room.
“Where are you going, leaving me all alone? Do you think in this state, I can walk myself and come with you?” asked Zola.
Aaron didn’t stop this time and he decided to follow his gut. He slowly moved backward but didn’t stop talking, he replied back, “You seemed naked to me. Y- You cover yourself and wait here. I-I will ask, umm, Miss Camilla to bring you down.” He swallowed his saliva.
Aaron lied to her. In reality, he would not come again and would also not ask Miss Camilla to come here either, though she cheated her and send him here. But he would still try to be respective towards her, considering her as an elder woman and would inquire about all this.
Zola threw her head back and laughed loudly. Finally, she turned towards him and made an eye contact with her. OHH how much he wished that she didn’t turned her head. It was not the sight to see. He would never be able to erase such a gruesome image from his mind.
Once a beautiful Zola had turned into an ugly witch. Time created a havoc for her.
Her face was pale. Blood flowing through her mouth. Meat pieces were near her mouth area. She was again laughing at him, making clear contact with him. He could see her teeth were also colored with red. Some pieces were even stuck between her teeth. She had feast on Cindy. Cindy was always a loyal companion to Zola. A mischievous cat whose attitude can put a top model to shame. Cindy always loved Zola. Why she betrayed Cindy? A poor innocent animal. His heart cried for Cindy.
"You are a liar, Aaron,” Zola pointed out, “You would never come back, am I right?” Zola asked him, her vulture like eyes fixed on him.
Aaron’s throat dried. Even if he wanted to retaliate back, he wasn’t able to. He didn’t have any energy left within him.
Again, a switched turned on or maybe off inside Zola and her facial expressions changed. She was now looking a pitiful victim. Her eyes reddened and she slumped her shoulders. She cried bitterly. She started banging her hands on that bloody wall with full force, sobbing out loud, “Let me out of the cage, please? Someone help me please.”
Aaron was still petrified, but he couldn’t understand why he was feeling sympathy for an evil girl. Maybe, he had seen her sane self. She was mentally unstable but still a human. She needed treatment so she could not further hurt her or any other innocent being.
He decided to play along with her. Alas, if he only he didn’t try to pacify her. His this decision was going to be the worst mistake of his life.