A little left-over Halloween horror…
If the Simpsons can’t get their Halloween special out before October 31st, why should I?
Shannon awoke in a daze. Her tongue was paper dry and her left eye seemed to be stuck shut. The smell of feces and urine filled her nose. As her open eye began to focus, she looked around the small room, devoid of furniture other than the filthy mattress she lay upon. She reached up to unstick her other eye only to find that her fingers were phantoms. The memories came flooding back as they did after every blackout: the abduction from her college campus; the torture; the laughter of the smiling man; the rage of the shadow man. She remembered having her hands cut off for trying to choke him. His suture skills were good, or she’d have been dead days ago.
From the small window across the room, she heard a familiar sound, a child’s metal bell ringing. She leaned slowly over and dragged herself toward the window, the stumps of her forearms mostly numb from the drug-induced stupor the shadow man kept her in. She thought her legs worked, but the utter fatigue of hopelessness made walking too difficult. With stumps pulling and cramped feet pushing, she finally arrived at the far wall and peeked out through the dirty windowpane.
There she saw him – the young man on the tricycle. He smiled, and giggled and rode around in circles, as carefree as a child twenty years his junior. Every now and again, he would look toward the window and wave, his smile never faltering. After a few minutes, he disappeared around the corner of the building. Shannon slumped the few inches back down to the floor, softly patting the window with one sewn-up wrist as she wept. She longed for the chance to ride that tricycle – fresh air, sunshine, and the feeling of enjoying a few moments of carelessness.
When she heard the door creak open, she realized her mistake. She was supposed to go back to her mattress when the smiling man disappeared. She knew he would return soon as the shadow man, and the shadow man was angry when the rules weren’t followed.
Shannon looked his way, her closed eye finally breaking free of the dried blood that had held it shut, and stammered an attempted apology. She inch-wormed across the floor toward the mattress, her safety zone, but she wasn’t moving fast enough. The shadow man growled as his dusty boots thudded toward her. Feeling her heart pound in her throat, Shannon braced her feet against the wall and pushed with all her might, trying to reach safety in time. Despite the pain, her legs responded immediately. Propped up on her elbows, she gained enough leverage to lift her body and lumber forward, mere inches off the floor, stumbling and falling onto her mattress just before the shadow man grabbed her by the hair.
He yanked hard and grunted, his face all but hidden by the darkness in the mattress corner of the room. Fleeting reflections of light in his eyes told her he was staring at her legs, shocked that they were still working. With his free hand, he slapped her nearest thigh. Grunting more loudly with each swing, he repeatedly slapped and punched her thigh until the pain finally broke through her fuzzy senses and pushed the tears out of her eyes. She screamed – something she’d avoided for weeks. A gravelly “No!” was all she could muster, but it was enough to make the shadow man drop her and stand up. He contemplated for a moment, and then stormed out of the room, closing the door behind him. She was left in silence, with the exception of her nightly food tray, for three days before blacking out again.
Returning from her unconsciousness, Shannon saw before her what must have been a dream. There, in her shit-infused dungeon, was that shiny red tricycle. It sat no more than five feet away and beckoned her with its pink tassels and perfectly white seat. Shannon dragged herself slowly to it, mesmerized by the feel of the chrome handle bars against her forearms and cheek. Despite an unexpected agony, she pulled herself onto the seat and tried to pedal. Her muscle memory from childhood was intact, but the tricycle wouldn’t move. Shannon looked down and began to laugh uncontrollably, until tears came again, as she saw the sewn up stumps where her feet used to be.