I slumped against the wall when I overheard the rubbing in the hallway. It was faint and muted by the door but its softness shredded my security nonetheless. What was left of my sleeve dabbed my face. It soaked in the sweat and blood, swallowing the telltale signs of my desperate efforts. The hollow of my back rested upon the remaining proof of my attempt to escape. Only my mind was left to be emptied now.
You slid in, one half-lifted foot after the other. They dragged across the floor, stirring the putrefaction smell anew. It mixed unpleasantly with the fumes of the food you carried and smothered all cleanliness out of the air. It smothered the scent of my work too.
I allowed disgust to fill my lungs and heart. I opened the door for the bloody mold to slip through and coat my every thought. My mind gorged itself with decay. Hope died in the line of duty. Rage kicked the bucket I used to pee. Rebellion went aground and turned to dust. You wouldn’t have a clue. I slumped against the wall, body and mind.
You folded yourself down to the floor in one economic movement. Your tray found its place atop my crossed legs. I looked at it and saw a filet mignon with all the proper side dishes. There was minestrone, too. I stifled a shiver: I’d pay hell for this meal.
I braced myself for my first spoonful of soup. The maelstrom you created in it would soon enough be matched by my own. I knew it, I dreaded it and I’d gulp it down because I had to.
With the carefulness of an abusive parent, you brought the spoon to my lips. I swallowed the 5 stars of its content. For a moment, it tasted like freedom. Then, you touched me.
The flow of your thoughts sent tears to my eyes. I contracted all my muscles to prevent a jerk from sending my food flying. Many meals were decomposing nearby from the first days. Now, my heart pumped marble throughout my body.
You let go of my knee and I emerged in the lesser hell of my surroundings. You refilled the spoon, I refilled my will and we butted heads in another round. The appetizer appetized no more. With each spoonful, I choked on dreadful imagery. My heart rose against the food I needed to keep down.
When we moved on to the entrée, my feelings were beaten to a pulp. I prayed for dullness but you monopolized it. You thrust bites in my hanging mouth and savagery in my bare mind. I chewed on beef as you beamed souvenirs of one of your victims. You tore her open for me to see. I would never eat rare steak again. I gave something up for each calorie in my stomach. Unclenching my teeth ripped my soul.
Cold metal pushed against my lips. If I didn’t open up, you’d jabbed the fork in my cheek. I had seen you do it. Eat now, be skewered or spoil the meal were the only options. I needed the energy. I reluctantly parted my lips. The mouthful of salad dripped with bloody dressing. As the lettuce snapped between my teeth so did the bones of the woman in my head.
The memories overlapped with reality. Horrors waltzed, fighting for the lead. Amidst it, your face kept is blandness. You could have been dead. You should have been dead. As hatred overran my heart, I cursed myself for it. You backhanded my face and I almost lost the diner tray. Pain added little dots to the dancing deads before my eyes.
Fear was allowed, disgust too. You couldn’t handle hatred when it was beamed straight to your head. The monster wants to be loved. Once, I would have killed for those baby blues. Today, “for” had filed for divorce. You slapped me a second time.
When I set my face and thoughts straight, another forkful awaited. Behind it, your brown eyes fixed me. I bit down confusion. My sanity’s questioning collapsed under another mental assault.
Weighed down by food and your imposed consciousness, I slumped more heavily. My back protested, hurt by the rocks I pressed against in a reflexive pull back from your touch.
You rose with the tray and poked my knee with the tip for your foot, dominating my mind some more. Flashes of a woman bleeding to death seared my cerebrum. I knew her. I tracked her.
The images faded and I panted the horror out of my chest. You walked toward the door and stood by its frame, looking down on me. I was entitled to hatred now. I built myself up with its bricks. The cold-steeled rage layered my insides.
I focused on your traits, trying to grasp your portrait. My earlier confusion re-emerged. I knew you. We worked together. Your hair is long and blond. Or is it brown? Or is it short? Or both. Clarity escaped where I couldn’t. The concepts blurred before my eyes.
It struck me that my senses were probably unreliable. I wouldn’t put it passed them, yet I couldn’t accept it. If I lost control over myself, I might as well hand you a scalpel to dissect me.
Truth punched me in the gut. My lunch almost came out. I recognized the shimmer between your swatches of appearance. I watched the Ocean overlay undulate over your body, hinting at realities beyond the one in front of me. Pain had triggered it, had given me clues. Unusable clues.
You were a woman than a man. You were known to me than a stranger. You were always a mix and match but never one person all through. You were several. You were a hive.
For the first time since my imprisonment, an emotion crossed your face. In your possession, it shone as ominously as a loaded gun. You smiled.