“It’s come time for you to spread your wings. I’ve scheduled your very first Ceremony in Jesus’ name.”
I gaze back at him as he smiles, and force myself to return it. The shudder tears through my body as the terror begins to permeate inside of me. “When?”
He fastens the weights around my ankles, eyes glinting with anticipation as a sneak of a smile appears at the corner of his mouth. “Tonight.”
I barely acknowledge his reply and lift my legs up, one at a time,up, down, and back. This exercise focuses on my calves, and is vital to prevent the pain of wearing the weighted boots on my feet.
“Don’t you have anything to say?” He says after a few moments of silence. “You’re being ungrateful. We’ve worked extremely hard to get here.”
His voice rises with each word, the only sign of his anger. I stop focusing on the workout and only on him, terrified of what he will do to me if he loses control of his emotions. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity, Grant. Jesus is a merciful Lord.”
He leans back slightly, the thick fingers stroking his stubble covered chin. He searches my eyes for a lie, but doesn’t find one. I have perfected the art of controlling my emotions and expressions around him. He only sees what I want him to. “Put some effort into your workout,” He snaps. “You’re slowing down. You need to build up your stamina for later.”
“She doesn’t seem well,” I croak, wincing slightly in fear of talking back. Still, it’s hard to ignore the lingering health issues in Grant’s new captive. “Will she be able to take part in the Ceremony?”
I can’t help it, I’m concerned. Listening to the heartbeat yesterday told me that she’s sicker than Grant thinks. There was an irregularity, a condition that’s been inside of her for years. I noticed a bit of surgical scarring peeking out of her tank top, proof of a coronary artery bypass graft.
Judging by the placement of the scar and the irregularity in her heartbeat, I’m almost certain there is a pacemaker in her chest. I would have asked but…that gag was in her mouth.
If that’s the case though, she won’t last long in these conditions.
He’s never gauged their health properly. It’s part of the reason I’m here, although, if she does fall under cardiac arrest, there won’t be much I can do to save her besides basic CPR. The tools aren’t available to me.
“It’s just an upper respiratory infection,” He says, dismissing me with a wave of his hand. “I’ve given her some medication. She will be just fine.”
I nod and continue with my calisthenics. It’s chin-ups next. I do fifty of those, followed by some flips over the bar and onto the soft pad below. Then, its weights, fifty minutes on the bench before the regular eighty push-ups. The chain around my neck jangles with each thrust of my body, the links rubbing my skin raw, the sharpened corners of the weighted padlock digging into the back of my neck.
I eye the end of the six-foot chain. It’s been locked onto a metal loop reinforced into the foam soundproofing that covers the wall. The chain allows enough lead to move about the room and use all of the mechanics, but is shortened enough to keep me within Grant’s reach at all times.
He says it’s vital that I am in the best physical shape, so I can conduct our important work. Being confined makes that a challenge. The only way to prevent muscular deterioration is daily exercise and a well balanced diet, which he provides me. Now that he has faith I won’t rebel against him, it’s easier to have these sessions.
“Showers,” He commands. “Unless you’d like to do some more bench presses, of course. That would be beneficial, but it’s your choice today.”
I shake my head. “I’m quite tired, Grant.”
He nods and holds his hand out to me. “Come then. Rest.”
I hold out my wrists, and he fastens the cuffs around them. Grant guides me to the corner of the room, where the shower is. As he begins to strip me of my clothing, I focus on the small rectangle drain built into the floor. It will send the water out of this place and back into the world.
Sometimes I wish the laws of Physics didn’t exist. Maybe then I could turn myself into water droplets and swirl myself out of this madness, deep into the confines of the plumbing and out into the safety of the world.
I miss it, the world. I try not to think about it too often. All it does is depress me, and I can’t afford that. Not here. Not with him.
I’ve been his captive two years. It took me that long to adjust to the change, but I’ve finally figured out a way to survive Grant and his plans. Compliance is a factor, but buying into his game is the most important key to survival. Following the orders set forth by Jesus has saved my life.
I can’t die here. I won’t die this way. I’m determined to outlive him somehow or escape him one day.
One day, God willing, I’ll get back to the world.
The hot spray of the shower crashes across my bare skin, and I yelp in surprise, but he’s right there, stroking my face and smiling as he pushes me entirely under the spray. The water flattens my hair against my forehead and into my eyes. Grant smoothes the strands away and gazes deep into them. I sense his passion, the wild way that he wants to take me all for himself right now. The bile forces its way into my throat, but I swallow it and hold my tongue. I’ve trained myself to do this since our first time together.
“You’re a sweaty mess, aren’t you?”
His lips hit my neck, and I take a breath as the water drips down my face. “I am.”
“You’re dirty too. It’s been a few days, hasn’t it?”
“Let’s clean you up then,” Grant pants between kisses on my skin, his lips finally claiming mine, with a fierce hunger as his hands slip between my legs, staying there.
It doesn’t take long for the rest, but it never does. My face is pressed into the tile wall as Grant washes my body with the sponge while shoving himself inside of me. I bite down on my lip, my screams of protest remaining stagnant in my throat.
Once the gag strap goes on for punishment, it doesn’t come off for days--weeks. It’s been one of the harsher lessons I’ve learned here.
My eyes fall shut as Grant builds up to his climax. My thoughts drift back to running on the beach, a black dog happily yapping as it races in and out of the lapping waves on the shore. I hear a voice calling out my name, beckoning me closer, but I never find the owner. It holds a passion I no longer recognize.
I wish I could remember where it was-- or who it was. I wish I could remember something. After two years of intense conditioning to this way of life and forgetting the life I lived before, the vision only comes to me in my most vivid dreams, and during the times Grant makes love to me. Those visions keep me sane, I think. I doubt I would have survived this long without them.
“That’s my sweetheart,” Grant hisses against my neck, finished now. “You’re such a beauty. Now, what do you say to me?”
His eyes swim with visions of what will happen if I don’t tell him what he wants to hear.
“I love you, Grant,” I whisper.
“That’s right. Now, let’s get you down for a nap and prepared for tonight. If Jesus is willing, we’ll have a Specimen by the weeks end.”
The thought repulses me. I repress a shudder as Grant unlocks the end of the chain from the wall, wrapping it around his fist once, then again. Then I’m led away by the chain around my neck, still naked, but strong enough to make it through another day in Grant’s hell. He guides me upstairs and into the bedroom. I can hear the gagged Bitch’s muted screams somewhere in the house, but I don’t point it out to Grant.
He ignores the sound too.
He opens the door to my cage in the corner of the room and helps me step into some underwear before I duck inside. I sit crossed legged as Grant unlocks the chain from around my neck and towel dries my hair, detangling it with the Boar Bristle brush next, then slicking it back behind my ears. He brushes and flosses my teeth and has me rinse out with fluoride swish. Grant helps me drink some water, then the ball is forced into my mouth, and he buckles its strap behind my head, padlocking it into place.
“How is that? Too tight?” He asks, his smile kind and eyes concerned for me.
I shake my head.
“Are you sure, Lover? Don’t be afraid to tell me. I can adjust the strap a notch or two. I’d hate for you to have discomfort while you sleep.”
I nod my head and sigh.
“Very good then.” He swings the cage door shut, turning the double deadbolt with his key.
I grip the thick metal bars with cuffed wrists and observe Grant as he gathers my clothing for tonight.
“You’ve come a long way in just two years, Lover,” He says, a sly smile playing on his lips as he sets the clothing on the bed and sits down on the edge. “I haven’t told you, but I’m so proud of how you’ve adjusted to life here with me. It was a gamble taking you on, and we’ve endured hardship, as you know, but I think things are finally beginning to turn around. Don’t you agree?”
I nod, knowing all too well the consequences of any disagreement.
“It won’t always be this way; you gagged in that cage. These things take time, but I feel enough has passed now. I have plans—a better way for you to live now that you’ve responded well to the Agreement. You’ll have some more privilege and independence soon.” His tone is sympathetic. Grant knows this isn’t easy for me.
I nod at him. At times I feel he does have my best interests in mind, especially lately. From the beginning, he told me I would learn to love him one day, despite my defiance early on. Maybe now, I’m starting to.
“Let’s get some rest.”
With that, he throws the heavy material over the top cage. It cascades down all four sides, blanketing the floor, shrouding me in darkness. A slight moan escapes me, despite how I’ve grown accustomed to this.
“Settle Jeremy,” Grant whispers. “It’s only meant to calm you, Lover.”
I stare up at the top of the cage, taking in the blackness, awaiting the next phase of my captivity.
The muted screams coming from deep inside the house never stop.