The smell of food woke her up.
Even being presumably far from the kitchen, she could still sniff out hints of what seemed to be a chicken-centered dinner. Her favorite.
At first, she thought it was a dream. Her subconscious playing cruel tricks with her mind, making her envisage one of her pressing desires, but she knew it was too good to be true.
The room was dark as usual. Not that it mattered to her, after all she was already used to it. By now she had practically memorized every inch of the room that was visible to her even in the blanket of darkness.
The light trail of scruff marks on the floor from a constant pushing of a trolley to and fro. The little bed in a corner dressed in an immaculate white sheet. A long abandoned wasp’s nest that hung at the corner of the small window. Even the number of cracks in the walls.
She was no architect but from the layout of the room it was assumed to be a basement. She had lost track of how long she had been here. Weeks probably, months even for all she knew. She wondered if her family was still looking for her or worst case scenario, they probably weren’t even aware of her disappearance in the first place.
The sound of a door opening behind her ushered by a temporary gleam of light dragged her out of her thoughts.
It was that time already, she sighed inwardly. No matter how many times she had heard it, it still sent shivers down her spine.
Her heartbeat rose with each slow and deliberate step he took down the stairs giving rise to an intense anxiety for what was to come next. Not being able to see this from the support beam where she was bound was agonizing mental torture.
Next came the sound of a light switch flipped which stunned her eyes for a moment and a trolley being pushed into view.
On it were an assortment of tools and equipment, very clean and glinting under the light, that always made her crawl. Of course she had had the unwanted displeasure of testing each of them against her will. Sometimes it was all of them. This was going to be one of those times.
After a thorough inspection of the tools, the man came closer to the girl who instinctively struggled against her bonds. A futile effort. Although she knew nothing of the man, not his face behind the mask that covered his face except his cold steely eyes nor his identity, there was one thing she was sure of and that was his meticulousness.
There was simply no way her bonds were not intact to prevent the likelihood of her escaping. True to his careful nature, he checked on her restraint once more before heading back to the trolley to pick up a tool.
From the looks of it, her recently grown toenails would be coming off again. This was the normal routine. Whether daily or weekly she wasn’t sure since half the time she’d be unconscious.
So many times amidst her screams she had wondered, why this? As far as she could tell, it was no common kidnapping for ransom, neither was it for any depraved sexual reason. It was simply just methodical torture. She had tried everything she could think of. Screaming, voluntary or not, was of no help, the room was likely soundproof and the man was not in the least bit bothered by it.
On the other hand, biting down the pain instead of screaming to deprive him of any satisfaction had only made him cut deeper. For some reason all he seemed to be interested in was her genuine expressions, nothing more nor less. Talking to him was pointless; she’d be better off getting a wall to talk back.
A couple toenails later, the man moved on to the next tool; a scalpel. Having been here for so long and gone through the same routine so much, there was no fresh skin left to cut anymore except her face. Each session she’d dread that it would finally come to that. However, the man showed no interest in it. Still the scars littered all over her body, both healed and yet to, didn’t deter him. He did what he had always done before; he cut them, tracing each and every one of them, like an architect with utmost focus and carefulness not even once making an error. Not that it lessened the pain for her one bit.
Her futile screaming and squirming around had made her work up some sweat; sweat which dribbled slowly all over her body salting her wounds. Just as he had always done before, when he was finished with cutting, he sealed all the cuts with a hot metal rod and moved on to the next segment.
A few more hours and several tools later, she was thoroughly exhausted and on the brink of passing out. The man noticed this and dropped the mini drill he was working with.
Even with all the dizziness and high from the pain, this part always calmed her down. The man pushed the trolley back out of view and pushed another one in. She didn’t need to see the contents of this one to know what they were; the smell of antiseptic was enough confirmation for her. She closed her eyes in relaxed anticipation of the warm water that cascaded down her tormented body, cherishing its soothing effects on her wounds. Calming as this part was, it had always unnerved her. After each torture session, he’d always clean her up and treat her wounds where she hung just as carefully as he had done with the torture except even better, almost as if with some sort of pious reverence like she was his personal savior on a cross.
A sharp prick on her neck pulled her back from her brief contact with delight. She realized it was from a syringe, most definitely filled with a sedative. Soon her unconscious body would be unshackled and laid to rest on the bed in the corner. She’ll be hooked up to an IV that will provide the basic nutrients to sustain her until the next session.
Fresh tears slid out of her eyes and along with it what little hope that this nightmare would finally end as she welcomed the warm embrace of unconsciousness. Except this time was different.
She woke up with a start, probably from a bad dream she couldn’t remember. The first thing she noticed was seeing the room from a different perspective for the first time since this all began. She was lying on the bed still hooked up to the IV and completely unchained. Rubbing her eyes just to be sure she wasn’t dreaming she wondered why she was awake earlier than usual; perhaps the man had miscalculated the amount of sedative he’d given her or her body had slowly built up a resistance to said sedative.
With her knowledge of his meticulous nature, the latter seemed a more credible option. Suddenly, all the hope she had shed away in form of blood, sweat and tears came surging back, fueling her with the drive to seek her escape amidst all the grogginess and pain in her body. She quickly ripped out the IV, clad herself in the blanket she was covered with and made a beeline for the window instead of the door on a split second decision. It would be a tight fit but less risky. Thankfully it was not barred. Getting a breath of fresh air after what seemed like forever was a tumultuous feeling for her. She didn’t even mind the cold air nipping at her bare skin; it was a little price to pay for freedom from that hell. Despite her body being sore all over she ran; she didn’t know where but anywhere far away from that house was fine by her. It must have been late at night from the looks of it as not much people were outside and the very few who were gave her weird looks.
It was not until a few streets later did she find someone, an elderly woman, who took pity on her and lent her a phone to call her family assuming she was a victim of robbery and possibly rape.
Thirty minutes later, a car dropped by and a man stepped out scanning the streets. After confirming it was her family, she ran to him not being able to contain her joy and relief.
After a heartfelt reunion she was ushered into the car where she finally relaxed for the first time in a long time, like the calm after a storm. The drive back didn’t take too long, they stopped at a house that was unknown to her yet eerily familiar. Perhaps it was a friend’s, she thought; not that it mattered, she was with her family now, the only family she had left since her parents died; her brother.
Maybe it was hope that made her blind to the oddities or the inability to come to terms with the ludicrous thought that her brother would allow any harm befall her; not even the remnant lingering smell of a chicken dinner got to her as they entered the house, nor the litter of bloodied antiseptic wipes. It was finally the monitor on a table that showed a video clip of her escaping on replay and a half empty syringe of sedative that lay nearby that shook her. The realization of how it was all staged put her in a state of torpor that was further worsened by a familiar prick on her neck as the sedative made its way into her body. She turned weakly to face her brother, her face a mask of confusion, shock and disbelief only to find him staring at her with the same cold steely eyes that always haunted her. Among all the erratic thoughts that ran through her mind as cold darkness slowly consumed her consciousness, one remained prominent. ABANDON ALL HOPE.