Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Short Story - Choices

On the heels of the last post, I realize this one breaks some of those rules.  Still, it's a fun little jaunt that I enjoyed writing.  Plus, it reminds me how scary my mind can be when I let it wander...

            Struggling to her feet, Karen grasped for the bed frame and pulled herself up.  She tried to shake the cobwebs from her head but couldn’t remember how she got here.  Her last memory was of the boyish smile that accompanied a free drink down at Torchy’s.
            The only light came through a crack in the door against the far wall.  The gray outlines she could make out looked like a small bed and a chair.  Karen groped her way around the room.  It felt scratchy, like concrete.  The floor was similarly hard.
            She took stock of herself.  Her feet were bare, but her clothing seemed to be intact.  She said a silent prayer of thanks that she didn’t appear to have been raped…yet.  She began to sweat and found one truth to be undeniable.
            She was trapped.
            As Karen started to reach for the heavy metal door, she heard a shuffling from the other side.  Someone was getting closer.
            The door opened and Karen temporarily shielded her eyes to the outside light.  Framed against the doorway stood a man of medium build and wavy hair.  Shadows hid his features, but she could sense a smile from him.
            “Hello again,” he said.  “I was hoping you’d be awake.”
            “Who are you?” she asked through trembling lips.
            “I’m Robert, your host.”
            “I meant, why have you kidnapped me?”
            “Kidnapped?” he asked.  “No, no, no – you have the wrong idea.  I’ve brought you here to start your new life.  That bar wasn’t the right place for you, and it told me all I needed to know about the desperation with which you’ve lived, but that’s over.”
            “I don’t understand,” Karen replied.
            “Of course you don’t.  But you will.  I chose you to complete our family.  You’ll finally have the kind of life you’ve always wanted.”  He paused.  “However, I can only offer you the chance; it’s you who has to grab the opportunity.”
            He grabbed the door and closed it behind him.  From the other side, he said, “We’ll talk again later.  For the moment, just think about this chance.  Choose well.”
            Karen’s legs went wobbly.  She collapsed to the floor and sobbed.
            She didn’t remember falling asleep and didn’t know if it was exhaustion or the leftover effects of the drug, but she pulled herself off the floor and tried to look around the room again.  Light still came under the crack in the door, helping vision that had adjusted to the darkness.
            She still had to grope to find the door, but it wasn’t terribly difficult to locate.  The handle was smooth and metallic.  She yanked on it, but the handle didn’t turn.  Running her hands over the door itself, Karen could find no seam.  It was flat and there were no hinges on this side.
            Moving from the door to the walls, Karen felt concrete blocks and mortar holding them together.  Some of the mortar crumbled in her hand and she wondered how loose the bricks might be.  She fumbled for anything that she might use to scrape between the blocks.  It was useless.  There was nothing but a bed with a single sheet, and the chair was too bulky to try and use.
            Without warning, the door opened again and the man was there, this time holding a tray.
            “I thought you might be hungry,” he said.  He laid the tray in the floor.  “Rice and beefsteak.  Don’t forget the apples on the side – they’re good for you.”
            The man placed a small paper cup of water on the side of the tray and backed out, closing the door as he went.  Karen felt her stomach roil, but she hesitated.
            From the other side of the door, the man said, “It’s okay.  There’s nothing funny in the food.  I’ve already got you here.  What good would it do me to drug you again?  Eat hardy.”  His footsteps soon retreated down the hall.
            She finally grabbed the tray and paper cup, careful not to spill anything; she didn’t know when she’d see food again.  She sat on the bed and tore into the rice with the spoon he left her.  It wasn’t the best tasting food she’d ever had, but she still enjoyed it.  She was so hungry that she licked the spoon clean at the end to make the she got every bit of rice.
            The spoon…
            Knowing hesitation might not help her, she flipped the spoon around and got to her feet, feeling for the wall.  She quickly found a seam in the bricks and started to chip at the mortar, praying this would work.
            To her gratitude, the mortar began to fall away.  Yes, the work was slow, but it gave her hope, which was all she had right now.
            She’d gotten around three bricks when she heard footsteps coming down the hall.  She scrambled to wipe away any evidence of her escape attempt and threw the spoon back on the tray.  Will I get another shot, she thought.
            Her fear sidestepped its way into confusion – there was more than one set of footsteps approaching.  Then she got scared again and wondered if a second tormentor was coming along to help in whatever they had planned for her.
            But no such terror approached.  When the door opened, a small girl, no more than 8 or 9, stood between the man’s legs, long hair spilling down her back.  Robert had an affectionate grip on her shoulders.
            “Hello again.  I hope you got enough to eat.  This is Nadia, my daughter.  Well…our daughter.”
            “What?” Karen asked.
            “That’s right.  When you join our family, it comes with pieces ready to go.  You’ll love her – she’s such a good girl.”
            “Are you going to be my new mommy?” Nadia asked.
            “Of course she is,” Robert replied before Karen got a chance to say anything.
            “I hope so,” Nadia said.  “I miss having a mommy.”
            “Let’s go, honey.  We’ll let her think on her choice and the life she could have.”  He again closed the door, and again Karen was encased in darkness.
            However, he hadn’t taken the tray.  She grabbed the spoon again and launched at the mortar with gusto.  She didn’t know what sick game was being played, but she wanted out.
            Thankfully, Robert didn’t return.  She rubbed her hands raw scraping at the wall, but she finally managed to get a small hole torn out.  She took as much care as she could to lay the bricks aside without noise.
            The hole wasn’t large, but she could see light from inside whatever room she’d tunneled to.  With luck it would be from a window she could try to get through.  She got down on the ground and slithered under it as best she could.  Her hips got stuck, but Karen pushed through to the other side.  She stood up and dusted off her skirt.
            The room’s light came from a desk with a small reading light on it.  The walls in here were solid – no concrete blocks and mortar, just a smooth finish and no doors or windows.  However, it wasn’t the walls that made her scream.
            It was the rotting bodies of three other women that did so.
            Two of them were propped up against the wall she’d just come through, while the third was slumped in the far corner.  Each were in different states of decay, but it was clear to Karen that they’d been there for a while.
            Behind her she heard the bricks she’d laid aside in the other room being pushed back into place.  She hit the floor and pushed at them, but they were quickly being cemented in.
            “No, please don’t!” she screamed.
            “I’m sorry,” Robert’s voice said from the other side.  “I gave you a choice, and you chose poorly.”
            “NO!”  Karen beat her fists against the wall, but it failed to give.
            On the other side, Nadia looked at her dad.  Sniffling, she said, “Does this mean I don’t have a new mommy yet?”
            “I’m afraid not, dear,” he replied.  “Don’t worry – there are more women out there, and we’ll find someone who wants to be with us.”
            Once he’d finished walling up the cell again, he grabbed the bucket of cement, took Nadia’s hand, and walked back through the door.  He closed it behind him and did his best to ignore Karen’s screams.  He knew that they’d eventually melt into nothingness, just as they’d always done.

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