At first, there was nothing. A blinding white, sterile room. There was confusion; why was I here? There was nothing of me, no memory of who I was before. No answers.
Then came the torture. My question changed from why was I here, to why me? Still no answers. Taken from the white room and thrust into a damp, cold hole, darkness was my companion, bearing witness to my shame, tears, and degradation. Endless time was spent in the black; it became a part of me, closing in, pushing down, bullying me. Even the darkness wanted something from me. But unlike my mysterious tormentor, I knew what the gloom wanted. Complete and utter submission.
I fought, I don’t know why. It would’ve been so much easier to just give in, to sink into my pain and despair and just disappear. But something inside me wouldn’t lay down quietly. So I fought. Most times my efforts were laughable, easily quashed and pitiful in comparison. Until it wasn’t.
Once, just once was all I needed. Something changed, I was the winner! Escape!
Blinding light again, only this time, I was outside. Pain radiated from me. My lungs burning as I gasped in the air. The skin of my bare feet, legs, and arms tearing as branches, trees and rocks resisted my flight, unmoved by my terror and anguish.
Panic became my center, my driving need for escape was my only goal. Stumbling, I slammed into a tree, half spinning around from the impact. No one behind me. Yet. My left arm, now numb from the impact with the tree, swung uselessly at my side as I pushed myself harder.
Shadows flickered across my eyes, the sun playing peek-a-boo through the canopy of the trees, densely packed together, disorienting me as I ran.
More endless time of pain and suffering, my body screaming from exertion. Only this time, something was different. Something unfamiliar and addictive. Hope?
Awareness sank into my brain in an instant. A change! The trees no longer cocooned me, I was in a clearing. No dense underbrush impeded me. I stumbled and fell, palms and knees skidding painfully on bitumen, layers of skin scraped off, being abraded by dirt and grit. A road. Keep going, get up, get up!
A high pitch squealing sound rends the air. To my right - some kind of pick-up racing towards me, its tires locked and back-end swerving as the driver stood on the brakes, attempting to stop the vehicle in time.
Turning to face the truck, I spread my arms out wide, closed my eyes and waited for sweet oblivion to take me. It wasn’t cowardice. Just another form of escape.
The rough deep voice as it shouted the obscenity tickled through the haze that fogged my mind and I opened my eyes. The truck had managed to stop a few yards from me, the bitter smell of burning rubber hung in the air.
Through the windscreen of the vehicle, I could see a horrified male face, covered with a scraggly beard and surrounded by a halo of unruly white hair.
Only seconds had passed, but I felt the energy draining from me, my adrenaline no longer fueling my flight instinct. The man’s mouth moved as he stared at me, shaking free of his seatbelt, his eyes never leaving mine as he pushed open the truck door.
My knees suddenly gave out and I dropped back down, barely registering the pain as more of my skin scraped off on the hot asphalt. The edges of my vision started to go black. I was caught, it was over. All for nothing.
But no. My long-forgotten instincts came screaming back, telling me one thing. Safe.
His scent hit me, soothed me. I could taste it on the back of my tongue and in my throat and it felt right, good. I started to tip, gravity pulling my dead weight, dragging me towards the ground. He was there, catching, scooping me up into his arms, the alarmed expression on his face somehow reassuring me that he wasn’t with my captors, wouldn’t take me back.
Agony flared along my nerve endings, preceding the darkness that came calling. Surrounded by that oddly familiar scent, I gathered the last bit of strength I possessed and whispered my plea as the darkness finally overtook me and I succumbed to my injuries.