The outline of her captor grew fuzzy as her eyes filled with unshed tears. Her entire body trembled uncontrollably as he sneered at her. When the familiar sound of him igniting the flame of his handheld blowtorch filled the small room she could no longer project a fearless façade. A muffled scream penetrated her gag as her bladder voided, dribbling off the table in a stream to puddle on the floor.
“Well, that’s just disgusting. I suppose you learned that in some sort of self defense class, yes? That’s only for a rapist, my pet. I assure you; I have no interest in that, whatsoever.”
His cruel laugh sent shivers up her spine. She could hear it fading as he left the room. For a brief, shining moment, she hoped he was too disgusted by her to continue whatever hateful plans he’d concocted. His footsteps receded up the stairs. Twelve steps in total, she’d come to learn. After the twelfth step, the door slammed.
Elated she took a breath and exhaled slowly. Seconds later, loud voices sounded overhead followed by canned laughter, a sitcom. Hearing his television click on had always meant he was finished with her for the night. Tears of anguish were replaced by tears of joy. She even relaxed enough to listen; a rerun of her favorite television program where the ditzy waitress, who lived across the hall, bantered with her super genius neighbors. When the show cut to commercial, he flipped channels. Just then, the horrifying shriek of a woman in distress ripped through the surround sound, making her jump. Just a horror movie, she told herself. She closed her eyes, trying to calm the jackhammer staccato of her heartbeat. Before her sense of calm could be restored, an icy sensation blasted every cell in her body. She tried to scream but could not. Her nose flooded with an odd smelling fluid that burned her eyes and inflamed her nostrils. Unable to breathe, her ears thudded with the sound of her own suffocation. Every cell in her body screamed out for oxygen but she could not clear the obstructing fluid. Woozy and blinded she prayed for death’s embrace.
Instead, she toppled to the floor and a tremendous force slammed into her chest. Sputtering and disoriented, another wave of icy-cold shock assaulted her. By the third time, she realized he was dumping freezing cold buckets of water over her. Before she could recover, he’d grabbed a handful of her sopping-wet hair and hauled her back onto the table. Face down this time; she feared not being able to see, even worse than being face-to-face with her torturer. The shackles bit into the tender flesh of her wrists and then her ankles.
“Keep this moment in mind, the next time you decide to piss all over the place. I’m sure that bleach stung and I was kind enough to dilute it…this time. Next time, I won’t be so nice. Now, is there something you’d like to say to me?”
He ripped the duct tape from her mouth and she was certain her lips had gone with it. Using every shred of restraint in her body, she resisted the urge to scream or hurl insults. Instead, after coughing more of the bleach-water from her lungs, she gave him what he wanted.
“Yes, I-I-I’m s-sorry and thank you for, uh, cleaning me up.”
“That’s better, my pet.” He replied as he stuffed a clump of fabric into her mouth and applied new strips of duct tape. “You see; if someone had taught you manners before, you wouldn’t be in this predicament now. Instead, we’ve got a whole generation of mouthy, self-entitled, jackasses who think the world owes them something, just because their mommies and daddies told them they’re so stinking special. Seriously, you’re in your mid-twenties; you should have figured out that you’re no different than everyone else your age.”
He continued ranting about laziness and poor work ethic as he ignited the blowtorch again. She fought to keep silent, knowing anything she said or did would only make it worse. When the blade was hot enough to cauterize her flesh, she felt it searing along her spine to remove the “tenderloin”. In an act of kindness, her body shut down. She'd slipped into unconsciousness before he'd finished removing the choice cut of meat.
**In honor of the holiday, the next installment of SERIAL will be Tuesday, September 2nd. Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend! See you in September**