I woke up to the sound of screaming. The scream echoed within my head, drowning out all other sound. I tried to open my eyes, only to realize that they were open and yet I was in complete darkness. Panic seeped in slowly like a snake, subtle at first barely on the surface and within moments, bound tightly within its grasp, squeezed, lungs failing to breathe, life slipping away from groping hands and helplessness severely evident; that was where I was. The temptation to scream overrode my ability to think and I let out what I hoped would be a desperate cry for help. All I managed to do, however, was blow hot air into the dry cloth in my mouth.
“Hush now.” the deep, raspy whisper was so close to my ear that I let out a muffled yelp, my heart thumped in my chest in fear. The darkness intensified my fear, I could feel my body shake and I couldn’t stop it from shaking. Who was that!? Where am I!? What is going on?! That sense of panic squeezed my chest with dread and it took all of my strength not to get into a wild frenzy.
“Please!” I tried to cry, but again the gag only let a muffled whimper escape. Large, cold hands landed on my bare shoulders, pushing me back against what felt like a wooden chair and making me sit. My arms, tied behind my back, were released from their bondage and as I brought them forward, I felt tiny pin prickles and that weird sensation of my arms getting blood flowing in them again.
“Listen up – we are leaving. What you do from here on out is up to you… as it always has been. Nothing has changed of course…well, except for the little present we’ve left you.” At the mention of the word present, the man tugged at something wrapped around my ankle.
“Other than that, go back and live the miserable life that you’ve been living but who knows…” the man sighed with effort and I sensed him stand up, “…we might meet again.” I heard his footfalls fade and the squeak of a door open then the rattle of metal as the door shut closed. I waited for a while, straining my ears and listening for anything that could put me in potential danger. I let at least a minute pass by before I ripped the blind fold from my eyes. There was no glare of light, as I’d anticipated, but what I saw caused me to shut my eyes anyway; my gag-reflex kicked in and I managed to block the bitter acidic liquid that was already bubbling up my throat.
She was dead…of course. There was no denying the pained, blank expression that adorned her eyes – even without the deep purple cords (veins, I nauseatingly noticed) that crisscrossed up her entire body, as though her arteries had been pumped full of air, short of bursting. I looked around, noting how small the room was – and bare. Still feeling the stinging sensation of rope around my wrists, I rose to my feet, suddenly aware that I was barefoot. The realization almost sent me through another fit of panic, the situation bearing down heavily on my psyche. To keep from panicking, I distracted myself by looking for my clothes, taking care not to look at or touch the auburn haired lady who was still tied to her chair. I found a sock, still half folded from when it had been pulled of my… I quickly looked down towards my foot, seeing the square bracket that had been locked around my ankle. A small groan escaped my lips as the corner of my eye recognized the same device linked around the auburn lady’s ankle; from it, the veins had begun to expand. I reached down to my ankle, giving the device a quick tug. A beep emanated from it, a flash of red followed and a scream shot from my mouth as pins dug into my ankle suddenly. Right at that moment, as though timed, a cellphone ring tone went off somewhere nearby. Still reeling from the pain and still trying to figure out what that device had done to my ankle and with my mind abuzz with thoughts and the ringing phone, I frantically began searching for the phone to shut off its incessant noise though there was only one place it could really be. I turned to face the woman, tentatively moving towards her and to where I could hear the phone ringing. Quickly and with as much control over my gag-reflex as I could muster, I reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out the phone.
“You have triggered the device…” I recognized the voice immediately, “…as I’m sure you know by now – don’t worry the numbness in your foot will fade eventually.” The man paused as though he were waiting for me to speak; I was rendered speechless however. He continued.
“You now have a set amount of time to live before you look like our red-haired friend over there. Its not a pleasant experience, I can tell you that, feeling your veins bubble and pulse and thicken and there is nothing you ca n do about it” he pulled in his breath sharply as though to emphasize the magnitude of that kind pain; I myself shuddered at the thought.
“Can you remove the device? Sure. But that prick you felt – that was a toxin injected into your blood stream, the magic formula that whittles down your body, every second that its in there, until you are nothing more than a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.” There was a slight pause. “So what will you do with the remainder of your time…maybe something good and constructive, you never know if this is all part of God’s redemptive plan to bring you back to Himself, right?” the man chuckled softly, “Or…go the other way and live life to the fullest for who knows…tomorrow you could be dead.” He laughed heartily, merrily, and my hand that was holding the phone clenched. The rage that blinded me and shut my ears against the laughing maniac didn’t merely simmer or boil; it simply exploded; With all that rage overwhelming me, I hurled the phone, hard, towards the wall where I watched the gadget shatter into pieces. At that exact moment, I felt my gut lurch as I realized that the phone was my only connection to the man who had done this to me, the only one who can reverse it; my last hope. With that final realization, I could no longer hold back the rushing bitterness crawling up my throat. I heaved onto the floor.