THERIOPHOBIA: FEAR THE BEAST Part 20
Marley lay on top of the sleeping bag, the thin padding offering little protection from the hard floor. The solitary blanket she’d wrapped herself in separated her from the outside world, a fragile insulation. She lay still, as still as a corpse, her eyes squeezed closed against the nightmare the world had become.
She could hear him up and moving around.
Part of her refused to believe what was happening. It had to be a bad dream, a hallucination. It couldn’t be real. Everything had happened so fast. It just didn’t seem possible. Yet even now her rational mind told her it was so. She had been kidnapped. She had been…
Her stomach tightened at the mere contemplation. She repressed the impulse to gag. She wanted to scream, to tear at herself. She wanted to run until she collapsed from exhaustion and sank into dark, sweet oblivion. But of course she couldn’t run. He’d put a chain around her neck.
Marley heard the opening and closing of the refrigerator door, footsteps on the hardwood floor. The crinkle of leather as he lowered his fat body into a chair. The TV clicked on. What sounded like an infomercial. Marley lay still, pretending to sleep, hoping he would leave her alone.
She thought of her sister. The man had said he’d intended to take Chaney instead, had grabbed her by mistake. At least it’s me and not her. Would Chaney be home by now? She’d call the police as soon as she got home. Or maybe one of the neighbors had already called the police. Maybe someone had seen what happened to her. The police could be on the way right now, coming to rescue her.
But they were too late to rescue her.
Marley refused to cry. She couldn’t let him know she was awake. She lay beneath the blanket and stifled her sobs.
The man changed the channel. Leland. Leland changed the channel. Some talk show.
“Guess we missed the morning news,” he said.
Marley tensed, afraid to breathe.
“You like peanut butter?”
No. Please. Leave me alone.
“I’ll make you a sandwich if you want. I know you’re awake.” He lowered the volume on the TV. “You might as well talk to me.”
Marley didn’t move.
“Answer me, goddamn it!” he roared, his voice filling the trailer, rattling the windows. Marley shuddered, whimpered.
“Sit up!” Leland commanded.
Marley rolled over, sat up, wrapping the blanket tighter around herself. She started to cry now.
“Aw, dry it up,” Leland said. ” You done enough bawlin’ last night.”
Marley forced herself to look at him. Fat, naked, hairy, monstrous. Sitting on his threadbare recliner like a king on his throne. She tried to swallow but the chain around her neck choked her.
“You want a sandwich?”
“No,” she managed.
“Not hungry?” he asked. “Well, that’s fine. You’ll eat when you get hungry enough. Wouldn’t want you gettin’ fat, anyways.”
“Please,” Marley said. “Please let me go.”
Leland held a beer in his hand. He took a loud slurp, watching her.
“You already got what you wanted,” she said.
Leland smacked his lips.
“Please let me go home.”
Leland grinned. “This is your new home,” he said. “Home sweet home.” He stood, pushing up from the arms of the recliner. He walked towards her.
“We’re playin’ Arabian Nights, remember? You got to keep me entertained or you lose your head.”
He walked past her, going to the front door. He went outside, left the door open. Sunlight poured into the room. It hurt her eyes.
Leland came back in carrying a large plastic bucket. He put it down on the floor next to her. “Here. This is for you to do your business in.” He went back to his recliner and sat down.
Leland waited for her to finish. “I told you, ain’t nobody here ’bouts to hear you. I thought you’d a’ figured that out, much screamin’ as you already done.”
Marley sobbed, letting herself go. She curled up in the blanket on the floor and wailed.
“Aw, come on, now,” Leland said. “I ain’t treated you too bad, have I? I just hurt you a little bit. Cattle prod didn’t even leave any marks.” He drank his beer, waiting for her to clam down.
“You know,” he said, “you’re the only bitch I ever fucked that wasn’t a whore. Honest to God truth. An’ most of them never did nothin’ for me, if you know what I mean. But you, you’re somethin’ else.”
He drained the can and crushed it, tossing it at a garbage can wedged beside the refrigerator and missing. “Tell the truth now,” he said. “Part of you kinda liked what ol’ Leland had to give you, didn’t you? Your cunt got wet. Can’t deny that.”
Marley looked up at him. “I hate you!” she muttered. She spoke in a quiet voice, but the words came out hard, sharp as razors. “I hate your fucking guts!”
Leland burst out laughing, delighted. He regained control of himself. “Now that’s what I like!” he said, slapping his thigh. “Feistiness! Look here, you done gave me a hard on.”
“You touch me again and I’ll kill you!” Marley said.
Leland snorted. “Yeah? How you gonna do that? With your bare hands?” He giggled. “Besides, you need me. Who else is gonna feed you? Huh? Face it, Marley, you belong to me now. We might as well be married.”
“You’re out of your fucking mind!”
“Seems to be that you been doin’ a lot of talkin’ without permission,” Leland said. “We can’t be havin’ that.” He stood. “Guess I’ll have to go cut myself a hickory switch.”
“Stay away from me!”
“Gonna have to give you a whippin’,” Leland said. “Unless you can maybe persuade me to go easy on you. Why don’t you spread them legs an’ see what you can do?”
“Go to Hell!”
Leland scowled. “Suit yourself, bitch.” He went back outside, returned a couple minutes later, peeling the last leaves off a willowy green tree branch.
“I’d suggest you get on them knees,” he said. “Put that ass in the air, give me a target to aim for, ‘less you want me to get indiscriminate ‘bout where I hit you.”
Marley tried to let her mind go free, to put herself someplace else. She tried not to think about the pain, to not feel the sting of the switch when it cut into her skin. To not be present when Leland was doing those things to her body. To not let him touch her mind, her soul. Her mind wandered over everything and nothing. Images flashed across her mind’s eye and dissipated with each time she tensed against the pain. Her parents, her sister, the regular crowd when she played down at the club. She tried not to cry out when the switch struck her, not wanting to give Leland the thrill he got out of hurting her.
The last good movie she saw, the last sunset, her last date.
His face, conjured up by her recollection of his name, lodged in her head. The thought of him hurt her almost as much as the switch, the feeling of loss. But something about her memories of Lucas Vale brought her a strange sort of comfort as well. She concentrated on his face. He seemed so close, almost like he stood in the very room with her, watching what Leland did to her. And he was angry.
“Let it out, bitch!”
She squeezed her eyes shut as Leland became frustrated, hitting harder to get a response out of her. Lucas Vale’s face seemed to glow in the darkness behind her eyes. His eyes became red bursts of light, pulsing, his mouth like a jack o’ lantern, all jagged teeth, filled with fire. The switch stung her again. She watched the face roar in silent fury. So close, she could almost feel him. Feel his rage.
Her rage. She ground her teeth in her mouth. She trembled, not so much from the pain as from her anger, denied an outlet. Her anger. Not Lucas, she realized. She hadn’t been looking at Lucas Vale’s face at all, but inward at her own. The face of her hatred.
Hate. Rage. It all looked the same on the inside.
* * *
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!