She could barely move. Her hands, bound behind her back, had lost most of their feeling and tingled with numbness. As she slowly extended her fingers, she winced in pain. He had definitely broken her left baby finger during the last struggle. Who knew a broken baby finger could hurt so much? she thought. Her muscles were stiff and sore from the lack of movement and from being forced to stay in the same position for so long.
It was so dark, so cold, and so deathly quiet. Quiet, at least for the moment.
She licked her lips to moisten them. They were dry and cracked from the lack of water. She could taste her own blood; a coppery salty taste that was all too familiar.
Her own screams echoed in her brain – screams of fear and agony. Screams pleading for him to stop and for someone to help; screams begging for the pain to end. She didn’t know how much more she could take of this torture. She had no way of knowing how long she had been in this prison. She never saw the light, and therefore, time seemed endless. Had it been hours, or days?
Naked and shivering, she struggled to roll on to her side. A wave of nausea overcame her and she gagged. Bile burned in her throat as she remembered what he had done to her. Shame filled her and tears stung her eyes but she forced herself to take a few deep breaths to try to calm down. Panicking was not going to help her and she needed to think clearly. Her mind was still fuzzy from the drugs he had forced down her throat and it was difficult for her to focus her eyes.
In the distance she heard the creaking of a door and her heart started to pound rapidly. He was coming for her again. Fear rose up in her and a desperate cry escaped her lips. She was helpless. She had no way of defending herself and was entirely at his mercy. No one knew she was gone and no one was coming to rescue her.
She knew that she was on her own.
Light blinded her as the door to her cell slowly opened. Squinting her eyes, she tried to make out the face of her attacker.
His large frame stood in the doorway, his face hidden in shadows. He reached his hand up and pulled a dangling string, and the clicking noise echoed in the barren room. A bare light bulb waved back and forth as it hung from the ceiling and provided only a dim glow. Shadows danced across the room, creating a private audience of monsters to witness his next attack.
She quickly darted her eyes around and committed the layout of the room to memory. An old mattress and a dirty afghan blanket were the only furnishings in the room. They had provided her a small comfort as the barrier between her naked body and the damp, dirt floor. The heavy wooden door was directly across the room from her and now stood slightly ajar. At least she would know what her prison looked like in her mind, when the darkness came again.
Silently, he approached her as a wolf would stalk its prey, and she frantically struggled to back herself into the corner, pulling her knees tightly to her chest. He sat down on the mattress beside her, leaned over, and sniffed her in disgust. The tiny windowless room smelled of urine and the mattress was wet and stained with it. Humiliation filled her, then anger. This misery was what he wanted her to feel and she could see in his eyes that he was enjoying it. He leaned down and whispered in her ear:
“Still breathing, are you? Well, not for long then. Soon you will join the others.”
Her mind raced with the possibilities of what that could mean. Her heart pounded and blood rushed to her head, making her instantly dizzy. Fear consumed her, and her breathing became shallow and rapid as she began to gasp for air. He snickered and grabbed her by the hair, forcing her again onto her back. Tears streamed down her cheeks as he leaned his face in close to hers. His breath was ripe with a pungent sourness and again she fought the urge to vomit. He roughly pulled her head back, and as she opened her mouth to scream, he dropped more pills into it. She choked and coughed, not wanting to swallow the pills, but at the same time, wanting the horror to end. The pills were the only thing that provided her with some relief from this nightmare she was in, but her throat was so dry and parched that she could barely get them down.
He had liked it when she had screamed. She didn’t know it, but it was the only thing that had kept her alive for this long. When she had stopped screaming and gave up, he had no use for her anymore. Now, she would join the others. He already had the perfect place all picked out for her.
He watched as her breathing slowed and her eyes glazed over. Before leaving, he rolled her onto her side, pulled out his pocketknife from his back pocket, and cut the ties that bound her hands. He left her with a half-filled water bottle laced with more sedatives placed neatly in her left hand. He needed her quiet while he prepared. The anticipation made his blood surge with adrenaline and made him feel the one emotion he could not remember experiencing before this contrivance all began:
He pulled the heavy door closed behind him as he left her in the gloomy darkness. Everything would be ready soon, and then it would be time.
The old skeleton key slipped into the keyhole and the metallic click of the lock engaging startled her. She struggled to open her eyes and stay awake, but the heavy fog in her mind overwhelmed her. Images of fond memories mingled with the sounds of her screams flooded her thoughts in a horrific haze. She felt the cold plastic against her hand and slowly realized that not only was she no longer bound, but he had also left her with water for the first time since she had been captured. Knowing it likely contained more drugs, she hesitated, but her intolerable thirst overcame her desire to be coherent. Her hands shook in pain and frustration as she fumbled to unscrew the cap in the darkness. She had just meant to take a sip, but as she felt the first few drops of luxurious wetness against her dry and bleeding lips, she greedily gulped the water down, choking and sputtering as her throat strained to allow it to pass through. Water trickled down the inside of her body like a cold river and finally settled in her belly.
She blinked her eyes several times, but the dead blackness hung in the air whether her eyes were opened or closed. Finally, she gave in and closed them, succumbing to the fog. As she drifted off into a deep slumber, she vowed to herself that this tribulation would not be her end. The chances of her leaving this place alive were slim to none, but she would find her way back and make him pay – one way or another.
As the night fell outside her prison walls, he could barely contain his excitement. He unlocked the old wooden door and shone his flashlight inside the cell, illuminating the pale skin of her body. She was so still and quiet, sleeping deeply yet firmly grasping the empty bottle of water. He stepped into the room and stood over her, tilting his head to the side, admiring his choice. He placed his hand on her shoulder and tenderly shook her.