There is a new face in the hole.  A shiny new mask sent just to confuse and confound me further.  It’s eyes are dark and deep, thoughtful as they observe.  The voices quiet some, the drop in volume from screaming to a dull roar, all of them muttering about this new one.  We could kill him they murmur, skittering away into the darker corners, we could fuck him they giggle like teenaged girls. Behave says the Mother and they hush. It is quiet in the room and in my head as it’s brown eyes observe me on my knees in the corner with as close to no expression change at all.  Even the human masks show some pity, at some stage.  Perhaps it is not human.

Curious, the monsters creep back into their holes and crypts, waiting and watching for Mother as they plan their moment to attack.  I do not want to hurt anyone. I just want out of this place. I fight not to drop my head in shame and see my vision blur and sting.  The face smiles, fiercely, gently, his eyes saddened at what they see and I am suddenly shy and shattered with no place to hide.  I am not crazy. I am not, and I can’t hold his gaze to defend myself any longer, not so exposed as I am and so I look away, shivering in my misery.

Killer they sing, as the new face pulls away, Idiot!! Did you think he’d want to save YOU? Who would want you? and my tears fall, scalding my already flushed face. Someone must have, once upon a time. The voices stab me over and over, their words honed to destroy me.  They leave bloodless wounds behind, stabbing until I sob, and even then I am unable to even raise my hands in a makeshift mask to cover my pain. I just don’t have the will to try.  He’s back, the voices marvel and I drop my head lower. His gaze weighs so heavily on my bones.

“Please stop staring.”

My voice is little more than a gruff whisper as I haven’t used it except to answer the occasional demand or to scream when I am strapped to that damned table in the exam room.  I am dead inside, little more than a ghost but I manage to muster what little backbone and humanity I have left into my plea.  There isn’t much, voice or humanity, and I’m so tired of looking at these filthy floors under my too pale knees. Filthy knees.  I don’t remember the last time I felt clean and certainly the tangles in my hair attest to the time that has passed.   The weight of his stare moves away and my lungs explode in a harsh exhale, surprising me into tears again.  I wasn’t aware that I’d been holding it and that frightens me more than the clicking of the key in the lock.

My breath comes quicker, my eyes still downcast -I can see the door sweep open, the little rubber flap at the bottom frayed like teeth that catch the dust on the mats and drag it along in a visible arc.   A pair of highly polished shoes step towards me and I catch my breath again.  The Imps startle and shriek, forcing me to skitter away before the shoes can reach me. The last time they got too close and I was unable to walk for three days.  The last time I bled for three weeks. They slow but do not cease, tentatively creeping closer and closer.  I have nowhere to go.  I am rapped like a rat in a trap and all too aware of it.

“Should I come in too sir?”  A voice from the doorway.  One of the guards.  He is not a kind person, one of the mean ones and I skitter further backwards. I was in trouble when my back hit the wall.  All I have left is my fingertips and I press them into my eyes.  They softly move with the pressure, spreading out like the sugar cookie dough we used to make at Christmastime.  I increase the pressure softly, at first, then harder. The pain is explosive and my tortured sockets leak down my face.  It hurts so badly but be damned if I am going to live through it again.  I would rather die by my own hands.

My wrists are smothered and pulled out and away, and I fight but they are held tight to my sides. “No no no no NO!!!” I scream and the livid voices are screeching along with my frustrated wails and I throw my head back.  Last resort. Last chance.  “STOP,” a firm male voice barks and I throw my head forward with all I have and feel his nose crack under my forehead,  His grip tightens on my arms and I try again, my forward momentum stopped as I open my eyes and see the thick blood that is flowing from his nose, turning his mouth and chin red.  But that’s not why I stopped.

Officer Unfriendly has joined the party. His gun is drawn and pointed directly at my temple.  I can feel the cold metal pressing hard beside my left eye, see it gleaming in the natural light that is flowing through the open door.  It’s eye is frigid as I stare into the eyes of the Door Face Stranger. My chest moves rapidly, I can’t breathe, my fear bigger than I am.  The barrel tip presses harder still and my heart stops, staggers, beats.  All I can do is hope that one of them will end my misery. Just kill me and let me rest. The voices keep blaring in my head DO IT DO IT DO IT they scream end it kill her she deserves it.  Mother has no authority now that the riots have begun.

“Kindly go back to the doorway and put your gun away for Christ’s sake.”

“But, sir, she’s a dangerous offender. It’s my JOB!!”

“You’ll be jobless shortly Mr. Duncan…”

The pressure on my temple eases, then vanishes, as does the elephant that had been sitting on my chest.  I’m horrified as an acrid smell assaults my sinuses and I sob in self-disgust. In my fear, my bladder has let go and the last of my self-worth drains into the puddle of urine beneath me.  I am less than a shell of a human now.  How I wish I could just fade away.  A gentle hand strokes my hair and I stiffen in surprise, the hand that was once on my right wrist.  My arm is free.  His other now strokes my back in a gentle motion. It’s been forever since anyone touched me, and I give up, give in and silently cry.

“It’s over now.  All this humiliation goes away right now. It never existed.”

Lies. Lies and more lies and the door is still open and I’m frozen in the arms of an unfamiliarly gentle man. A Stranger.  My way is clear’ It’s right there and I just can’t move away. The monsters are confused, whining at each other from their destructive activities. Mother paces, fingers behind my eyes digging into my will and urging me to run, crawl, TRY.  I want to obey. I want it badly enough that I can smell the rainstorm that was raging outside the windows on the other side.  I want out of this piss smelling room and in the fresh clean air.  I want to let the rain wash the stench of this place away.  I want that so badly that my legs are trembling as they try to lift me and fail.  Of course they would.

I was forced to swallow the noontime drugs. Nurse Noxious stormed into my room carrying the small paper cup that held the pills and with her was Officer Unfriendly.  He kicked me hard, knocking me on my side then pulled me to my knees by my hair, his big hand releasing it and then cutting off my air while shoving his thick rough fingers inside of me. I had no chance to scream.   He fucked me with his hand, while pushing the pills into my mouth with his other; he blocked my mouth and nose and I had no choice.  Once I had swallowed the damned things, he yanked his fingers out of my violated pussy and shoved me face down to the dirty floor.  I tried crawl away, but he held me fast and shoved his cock in as far as it would go.  It hurt and I screamed at last, loud as I could and that’s when I saw stars.  I’d forgotten Nurse Noxious. She laughed and encouraged him to pound harder.   I came out of self-defence. It wasn’t out of pleasure, or worth the further injury to continue to fight.  Thankfully he pulled out this time and spared me the added stress of worrying that I may wind up pregnant in this place.

“Can you walk?”

Walk? I can’t even speak or lift my eyes, unable to articulate more than a bare shake of my head. That was enough it appears.

“Mr. Duncan?  Where is her room please?”

Officer Unfriendly steps over the threshold and the panic rat starts to gnash in my belly.  The voices clamour in alarm but I can’t move or protest, only lift my eyes to plead, and I do. I lift them to the stranger whose arms are still around me and beg.  I have no one else.  Mother snaps and the bells cease, all monsters to shelter.  The stranger smiles into my desperate stare.  A smile that doesn’t quite meet his eyes, and one that stiffens the small lines around his mouth and creases his forehead creases his lips and he snaps at the guard in a growl.  “I didn’t say come in. I asked where her room was.”

“You’re standing in it. Sir.  After the last time she decided to cut herself open and draw in her own blood on the walls, they put her here permanently.  She isn’t right, sir.”   Officer Unfriendly’s tone jeers from the doorway, finding my discomfort amusing.  I look to the wall and see the tiny scratches I’d made there with a small stone that fell on my head in the night. I remember the first night I made my mark.  Small enough not to be noticed, deep enough to remind me of the eternity of darkness I had already been mired in.  The stranger looks as well, his breath catching in his chest and I watch his eyes crawl over the notches in the padded covering with disbelief and horror.

“Four months. You’ve kept this woman here in this room for four months? This isn’t for her safety. This is cruel. Find me a room now Mr. Duncan, and gather her belongings,” the Stranger snapped as he held his hand out to me, “Come, let’s take you home.”

I hear the words.  They bounce off my mind, ricocheting against the others that had been drilled into it since I cut the throat of the first.  Murderess. Insane. For life. Killer. KILLER.    But home.  I have no home. Not now. I am undoubtedly unwelcome, as I’ve been alone since they dragged me shackled through the doors. Not a single visitor save the Door Faces and this Stranger. I can’t move from my wet spot on the floor and I look at his hand for a long moment before raising my gaze to his face again.

“Where is home?” I ask softly and his only answer is a vague smile and a brush of his fingers across my forehead.  His touch stings my skin as he sweeps the matted hair from my face and frowns at the reddish purple bruising that is hidden under it.  The rattling clatter from the doorway startles us both, and the Stranger takes a deep breath and exhales with a rapidly cooling warmth in his expression.  A wheelchair that looks older than Christ with Officer Unfriendly at the controls, his knuckles white and trembling slightly on the handles as he glares at the stranger.

“Please, don’t let him touch me.”  My voice, already rough from disuse cracks further, fracturing my words before they reach his ears and I try again.  This time I succeed. The Stranger’s eyes narrow, considering me at his feet, and rises with a stony expression replacing the kinder one.  From human into something not remotely so and it should scare me, but I am not afraid. It is familiar and I feel safe. All I can do is watch from where I wait, my legs beginning to tingle slightly.   I hope he hurts him.

“Mr. Duncan, if you please, I’ll take the chair now.”  The stranger’s words, though mild, contain a threat that Officer Unfriendly is clearly missing.  The monsters snarl when the guard’s features become more predatory than professional and he continues to destroy me with his open glare. It doesn’t last long. The Stranger speaks to him sotto voce, his hands casually in the pockets of his trousers and demeanour far less so. Officer Unfriendly’s eyes snap to the Stranger’s, bulging slightly and jittering when the intent is realised.  A fine sheen of sweat covers his creased forehead.  He is afraid. “Do you understand me Mr. Duncan? Nod if it’s clear, but I expect an answer.”

Officer Unfriendly’s eyes get so large they look as though they might pop out if his head and I watch with amusement as a dark spot appears at his zipper and spreads rapidly. The tingling in my legs is stronger, as is the desire to close my eyes and escape this mess so strong that my vision wavers like the road on a hot summer day.

 “Yes sir Mr.  Zachary,” he stammers, hands dropping to cover his crotch, and his face blazing red and dripping in embarrassment.  He nearly runs down the hallway in his efforts to get away.   Zachary.  So the Stranger had a name and a temper it seemed.

I wonder if this experience will change Officer Unfriendly, or will his fear make him worse.  If is for the worse, I will give him a reason to kill me.

My eyes keep closing. I just can’t stay awake and I am afraid to fall to sleep alone.  The door is still open.  It shines like heaven, the sun so strong on my face that I can feel it baking off the depression and tombstone mentality.  His arms are so strong when he lifts me from the floor and I cannot struggle anymore. My head falls to his shoulder as the darkness takes me. Maybe I will wake up in a better place, maybe I won’t wake up at all.  All I had to go on is that I was out, and this Mr. Zachary was taking me home.  The rest I will trust to fate.

©MelanieMcCurdie2016

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