Many thanks to BlackRandl1958, GeorgeAnderson, Todd172 and Bebop3.
“Good morning, my darling.”
His voice woke me in in that insufferably cheery way. The bastard.
“Sleepy again? Don’t worry, I’ve made you a nice, strong cup of coffee. Just the way you like it.”
“Fresh orange juice.”
I hated him.
“Fresh Croissants. They are still warm.”
One of these days I was going to kill him.
“I’ve managed to make a latte art heart on your Cappuccino. To express my love for you.”
I’d do it slowly.
“Nothing is too good for my good girl.”
Painfully. I wanted to see him suffer.
“It is so cute to see how you sleep in. You look so sweet while you’re sleeping.”
First, I wanted to see his face. I needed to know who he was. What I’d done to him. Why he was doing this.
Yes, I’d slept in again. That was hardly a miracle after the night we’d had together. Well, together might be the wrong term. I suffered while he probably sat somewhere, on his fat, pimply, ugly ass, directing this.
The breakfast was on the table, which meant that he’d been in here again, while I was sleeping. I’d never seen him. I was glad for that. I only wanted to see him once: the moment I’d kill him.
Most of the time, I got my food through a hatch, but not after nights like last night. The exhausted sleep had at least spared me from hearing the rats scurrying through my cell during the night. They had horrified me in the early days, but I was long past that.
“I was all right, for a while.”
No! Not that shitty song again! Right on cue, my right eye started twitching again.
“I could smile for a while.”
I knew he’d play that song again, but that didn’t make it easier. At least it wasn’t extremely loud this time.
“But I saw you last night.”
That shit made me puke. I had no idea what the song was. Some schmaltzy stuff from the 1950s, probably.
“You held my hand so tight.”
I imagined holding his neck so tight. Until he stopped twitching, preferably. All that was twitching right now was my damn eye, though.
“As you stopped to say hello.”
“Noooooo!” I couldn’t help myself. I didn’t want to react, to show weakness. I just couldn’t stand that song anymore. I had heard it a thousand times since I’d been here, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if my ears were bleeding whenever he played it.
The song stopped and I heard him chuckle.
Damn, another win for him. I hated him, I hated that song, I hated to be called “good girl,” like a dog. I don’t think I knew what real hate meant before I ended up in here. Sure, I knew the general sense, but it turned out I had no idea. What I had experienced in here had shaped the true ugly meaning of that word. Now, I was one of the leading experts on hate.
I still had to decide what to do about that damn breakfast. I was so hungry and it looked so delicious that I wanted to puke. It was a Trojan horse, probably laced with drugs most people had never even heard about. Sometimes after he drugged me, I was totally hyper, sometimes I was depressed, sometimes I had panic attacks, sometimes I just fell asleep. He could play me like a piano, using the small chemical plant inside my head.
Falling asleep might sound like the best option, but it wasn’t. As soon as I got tired after eating, I knew what was about to come. I fought sleep as long as possible, always in vain. I woke up in weird surroundings, or bound, suspended, under water, whatever. I thought I had seen every sadistic situation known to man by then, but his torturous creativity continued to surprise me.
I hated him and he knew that I did. It was a good clean hatred, undisturbed by any kind of positive feeling. His cheery fake ignorance just reinforced it. My twitching right eye seemed to agree, as well.
I looked around for the thousandth time. My room, no, my cell, was relatively large, but mostly empty. There was the simple bed I was lying on, a metal toilet, a mirror and the small wooden table, which was bolted to the wall like everything else. The mirror was made from polished steel instead of glass. I would have committed suicide a long time ago if it wasn’t, which he had obviously taken into account. The only movable thing was a bucket I could fill with water to wash myself.
The old brick walls were damp, bordering on wet. There was a puddle in one corner. It was the darkest corner, the one I avoided whenever I could. I didn’t like the vibes in that corner, it seemed scary, almost evil. At times, probably when it was raining outside, the drops falling into that puddle were enough to drive me insane.
There was one source of light, which was some kind of bright LED thing, protected by a grid. It determined what was day and what was night in my cell. The sun seemed like a distant memory. Although I had no access to a clock, I suspected that the cycle was highly irregular, which added a lot to my general confusion and tiredness.
Some things about my situation were bad. Some were almost unbearable. His cheery mood was among the latter. One of the worst, though, was the absence of natural light. I had not the slightest idea where I was. I had no idea how long I’d been here.
I finally gave in and moved towards the breakfast tray, as I always did. I hated myself for it, as I always did. I would have preferred to refuse his soiled gift, but my hunger was just too strong. He laughed through the speakers, as he always did.
Okay, he had defeated me again, but did he have to rub it in like this? Of course, I hated him even more for it. I had tried to start some kind of hunger strike some indefinable time ago, but I quickly came to the conclusion that I probably cared more about me staying alive than he did. I realized that I was playing poker with bad hands and stopped. If he wanted to kill me, there was nothing I could do about it, but I wouldn’t do the job for him.
“Enjoy your breakfast, my sweet wife.” his distorted, inhuman sounding voice told me through the hidden speakers. I might have been confused about a lot of things, but I was absolutely certain that I had never been married. My bloodied fingers moved towards the food as if they had a will of their own. My finger nails had long since been bitten down by my teeth, which also seemed to have a will of their own. The feeling that I was beginning to lose control over my body and my mind should have alarmed me. It didn’t. Base instincts ruled. Survival. Hunger, in this case. As always, food was served in disposable tableware. Nothing could be used as a tool or weapon.
As I started to eat the disgustingly tasty food, I again tried to figure out what all of this was about. He had never told me, but I knew what he wanted. I was also sure he knew that I knew. We knew each other well, me and my “husband.”
He wanted to drive me mad. Plain and simple. I didn’t know why. I didn’t know who he was. I just knew that he was about to succeed.
Suddenly, I was wide awake again, surprised that I’d fallen asleep. I assumed he’d again spiked my breakfast. Sometimes I got some kind of day off to recover after a bad night like the one before. Not this time, it seemed. How long had I slept? I had no idea, as usual. My cell was completely dark and silent. I was lying on my bed, shivering. The damn bastard had turned down the temperature again, as he did when he wanted to drive me out of my cell. He could have carried me anywhere while I was unconscious, and he frequently did so.
He had put me into glass boxes that were slowly filled with water as I could hear him laughing on the outside. I could see his shape right next to me, but the semi-opaque glass kept me from recognizing him. The glass box was illuminated in a sick green light. My left hand was tied to the floor with a soft rope. The cold water was slowly rising. In the beginning, I welcomed it. I thought about suicide all the time, and the prospect of drowning was appealing. I started to taunt and berate him. He just chuckled. We were playing some kind of sick chicken game. Unfortunately, I lost when the water level had reached my mouth. My survival instinct kicked in and I screamed as pure terror took over. He was still laughing as I was drowning and losing consciousness. The last thing I heard was “good girl.” Of course, I awoke in my cell with a marvelous breakfast in front of me.
This time, though, he obviously wanted me to leave the cell on my own. I already knew what was about to happen. I was in for a round of our labyrinth game. Of course, I was determined to stay in the relative safety of my cell. Of course, I knew I would leave it anyway. He had many ways to make that happen.
“I was all right, for a while.”
“I could smile for a while.”
My right eyelid started to dance to the music. The alternatives were staying inside a freezer listening to that shit and losing whatever was left of my sanity or going into the labyrinth, risking bodily harm.
“But I saw you last night.”
It was loud, really loud this time. Asshole.
“You held my hand so tight.”
The door was slightly ajar; light was streaming in, invitingly. Soft yellow light. It looked warm and enticing out there. The temperature in the cell kept dropping and neither my light and torn clothes nor my paper-thin blanket would keep me alive for long. I knew that the music would stop as soon as I left my cell. It was his system of rewarding and punishing his lab rat.
“As you stopped to say hello.”
As my shivering started to get worse, my teeth started to rattle and my toes started to hurt, I thought about the futility of my resistance. He could starve me out any time. Would it make any difference if I kept suffering in this fridge? No. I’d go out the door sooner or later, anyway. Why not do it sooner and spare myself the biting cold and the shitty love song?
“Oh, you wished me well.”
Reluctantly, I got up, hating myself for being so weak again. The music got a little quieter and I heard him chuckle.
Shit, another win for him. I guessed the current score was at about 5,000 - 0. I opened the door further, cautiously peeking above the jamb with my twitching eyes. He had gotten me with those simple traps in the beginning, but we had long since moved past that. These days, I found many of his simpler devices before they harmed me. He was creative, though, and invented new ones all the time, many of them successful. We were like an old married couple. No sex, constantly watching each other furtively, hating each other, hurting each other. Well, at least I hated him and he hurt me.
“You, you couldn’t tell.”
The space above the door seemed to be safe, but the dim light made it hard to tell. The door to my cell was an old greenish steel door like you find in many industrial buildings. It was still sturdy, but the paint had started to flake away, probably decades ago. It was motorized, the drive sitting in plain view on the outside. I had tried to block it a few times. It was hopeless. I had no tools, just a few rags and he could clear it up easily after sending me to sleep yet again.
“That I’d been crying over you.”
“Yeah, I’d like to see you cry, asshole,” I hissed under my breath.
The ceiling was dark, way too high to reach and difficult to see in detail. I knew from earlier experience under brighter conditions that it was a simple concrete surface, just like the walls. There were numerous cable ducts up there, looking old and dirty. He had the habit of placing traps up there from time to time. I heard pigeons cooing somewhere in the distance, wondered what they were doing in this godforsaken place and whether they were even real. I cautiously peeked along the corridor in both directions. I’ve had a lot of painful experiences along this corridor.
“Careful,” I mumbled, hating myself for being unable to remain quiet.
No unusual contraptions were to be seen, this time. The sturdy industrial lamps glowed softly at regular intervals. The doors that sometimes blocked the corridor after a few meters in each direction were both open. He was giving me some sort of choice, based on no information at all.
I knew from numerous previous sadistic “games” that this main corridor stretched for about 30 meters in each direction. At each end, it branched into two directions. This was the starting point of a whole maze of corridors, mostly dark rooms and larger halls. There were lots of doors, giving him endless possibilities to change the layout of my personal hell. The prevalent impressions were dampness and dimness. The whole thing was like a system of moldy boxes. Water was dripping from the ceiling, it was running down the walls, it was accumulating in puddles on the floor. Everything was slippery, each section reeked a bit differently and none of them were pleasant. Dripping or burbling sounds were everywhere, sometimes multiplied by echoes.
I was afraid. I always was in moments like this. The twitching got worse; sweat popped out on my forehead. Dimly lit corridors stretched on both sides. Both dark holes seemed to stare me down, waiting to unleash their hidden horrors on me. I could hear water dripping somewhere. The roof was cracking. There was no movement anywhere. Time seemed to stop.
I stared into both directions, my eyes wide open in the vain hope of seeing anything that might help me with my decision. I needed to calm down, be cool, relaxed, bring my twitching eye under control. I took a few deep breaths.
“Calm down,” I whispered to myself.
I knew that he was watching my steps closely, probably laughing in glee and feasting on my fear. I had seen a lot of cameras, but there were probably a lot more that I hadn’t seen. Did I mention that I hated the asshole?
I chose the left side, for some indeterminate reason. As soon as I turned left, I felt the threatening presence of the other corridor on my back almost physically. I hated myself for being weak enough to turn around all the time, looking for movement. The roof groaned again, making me jump a bit.
As if in slow motion, I snuck down the corridor. I didn’t have many things on my side, but I did have time. All the endless unmeasured time I wanted. The coldness left my body, but the trembling didn’t. My fear was more than enough to keep me shivering. I carefully checked the walls and the ceiling for possible traps. When he sprung one of them on me, it was always painful, but the shock was even worse. The feeling of being at his mercy, having to endure whatever his sick mind had come up with. That feeling of helplessness and frustration. I felt like his toy, like an object. Exactly what he wanted me to feel, no doubt. Asshole.
The corridor walls were full of old industrial debris like switching cabinets, cables and old technical things I had no idea about. It was possible to hide traps there, but I could spot most of them, by now. He rarely bothered to try something that simple anymore, but you never knew. The floor was difficult to check because of the oily puddles, so I simply avoided those.
I moved down the corridor at a glacial speed. Full of fear and tension, I oscillated my head to and fro like a demented senior. A sharp cracking sound in the distance shocked me, almost making me piss my pants.
I knew that the old steel structure above me made noises from time to time, but that knowledge didn’t ease my nerves. This place would have been eerie even without some psychopath placing traps everywhere. Just as I had calmed down a bit again, a blood-curdling scream tore through my ears, followed by a blinding flash of light in front of me.
In terror, I shrieked, turned around and mindlessly ran back towards my cell. My mind was empty, I just ran in sheer panic. Wait, I thought. Calm down. Stop this. You know better. I slowed down just in time to see a small horizontal bar that had appeared waist high from one wall to the other. In my panic, I would have run right into it, possibly hurting myself seriously.
I stared at it, still unbelieving after all that time. How could someone be such an asshole? What had I done to him? I had always been a gentle caring person, I never hurt anyone. This felt so unfair. I vowed again to kill him one day.
Defiantly, I looked up towards the camera, pointed at it and gave him a finger. In response, he growled through the speakers. I knew I would pay for this. It was totally worth it.
Cautiously, I returned to my exploratory quest down the corridor. I really didn’t want to. I felt tired. Enduring this shit for so long, however long it had been, had worn me down. I was still shaking, sweat was stinging my eyes, making it even harder to see anything in this shitty, dark, wet cave. I still saw no alternative but to continue. He wanted me to, to test his newest inventions. I wanted to, to check the labyrinth for escape routes yet again. In the movies, people escaped from the most secure prisons all the time. Why couldn’t I do it from this shitty old industrial building? I again vowed to explore this labyrinth to the last detail, even if it cost me my life.
I passed a yellow door on the left. Damn, how I hated and feared that door. He had lured me into the room beyond it one day and had tortured me for what felt like an eternity with an endless barrage of blinding flashes and electrical shocks. It seems he had lined the floor with some conductive stuff. When I finally woke up in my cell after having lost consciousness, my body was one giant bruise.
I really hated him.
He knew I would keep away from that yellow door instinctively, staying on the right side of the corridor. It might or might not mean that he had hidden something over there. Maybe he guessed I would think that, and would keep to the left. In any case, this area was a likely place for a trap. Trying to stay calm, I inspected the floor, the walls and the ceiling thoroughly, wishing again that I had a flashlight.
Nothing to be seen. I cautiously passed the area and nothing happened apart from asshole’s distorted voice laughing at me over the speakers.
He knew my fear and fed on it. Sick bastard. I was feeling like a lab rat once again. Like a dog that was being conditioned. This whole thing was so degrading. I was being consistently dehumanized and was powerless to do anything about it.
Having passed the hated yellow door, I reached the T-junction without any incidents. The left side had always been blocked by a locked dark red door after a few meters. Checking this door had once earned me a dose of pepper spray into the eyes without having any water nearby. As I had stumbled back into my cell, I had no chance to spot the newly added trip wire. It was painful and humiliating, as always. My eyes had burned for days and the abrasions had taken even longer to heal.
The door was closed again, but I abstained from checking to see if it was locked. As always, that left just the corridor to the right. It was even darker down there. The uneven walls and impenetrable shadows made it easier to hide things. It was one of his favorite places to hurt me. I cautiously entered it, nonetheless. I felt like if there were escape routes from this hell, they had to be in the bigger mysterious halls beyond this corridor. I knew I had to do this. Still, I was terribly afraid. Both eyes were twitching now, my palms were sweaty, my whole body was tense. I had always hated dark narrow places. Since this shit started, my dislike had been intensified to borderline claustrophobia, but I had to keep it in check it to survive. Most of my defeats had been caused by panic. Rational calm thinking was the only defense I had.
“Keep calm...” I mumbled.
“This is okay...”
“I can do this...”
I felt like a mime artist as I stalked along the dark corridor, staring into the shadows without seeing anything, listening to the sounds, but hearing just the usual groans and thuds. After an eternity I reached my destination, a place I dreaded. The twins. They were a pair of massive old machines that loomed in the near darkness like threatening giants. They were two spots of an even deeper black within an already dark room. The hall itself had once been lit by skylights. They were almost completely opaque by now, just panes of a dark brown color, not illuminating anything.
I felt, but didn’t see, the thick layer of dust and debris covering the floor, which was a notable difference to the rest of the labyrinth. It seemed he had not prepared this area for his sadistic experiments and had probably just checked possible exits.
The corridor continued past the twins and led into the huge machine hall. I was afraid all the time, but in here, I was terrified. It always happened when I was at the twins or in the great hall. I wasn’t afraid of him anymore. He was not relevant. Not in here. The place itself was evil. I felt it, like a physical force.
Even my kidnapper didn’t seem to like this place, as I had never experienced a trap in the twins’ room or in the great hall. He seemed to bow to a greater evil. This was not his territory anymore. Something else was ruling in here. These places seemed inhuman, not just deserted by humans. It almost seemed that humans didn’t belong here, anymore.
If he had forgotten to secure some possible exit, it would be in here. I hated to be here, but it was my best chance.
The corridor ran along the front side of the twins, and smaller aisles circled them completely. The space behind them was almost unnaturally black and terrifying. I had dared to give it a perfunctory check once. It felt like the small space was filled with fear, so thick that I could almost touch it. I couldn’t see anything; it was like staring into a black hole. I endured it for a few seconds before fleeing back down the corridor in sheer panic.
No way I would repeat that today. I was too tense, already; this was not one of my best days. Yes, I needed to check that place again sooner or later. I decided later. Instead, I continued towards the great hall, probably the only room that was even more frightening than the twins’ hall. Trembling, I crept forward, listening to each groan and creak the old building emanated, trying to discern anything unusual. Even my eye had stopped twitching, which meant that I was close to breaking.
Just as I left the twins, I heard something rustling behind them. I was scared shitless. A rat. Probably. Calm down! I forced myself not to run again. I knew that if I ran, my panic would completely take over. ‘For a woman seriously contemplating suicide you’re quite the chicken,’ I thought. Relax. If there’s something evil in there, I should welcome it. It might free me of this nightmare, one way or another. Not really believing this shit, I still managed to calm down a bit and peeked into the great hall, looking back into the near darkness behind me all the time. I almost expected the twins to come alive and get me.
The great hall was almost completely dark. A few rectangular areas were illuminated by roof lights. I guess to any visitor from outside, they would have appeared pitch black, but to me they were almost glaring. Sometimes I felt like Gollum, all pale with enormous bugging eyes. The lit rectangles made the rest of the hall appear even darker. They were like islands of feeble light in sheer blackness. I never dared to enter these spots as I felt completely vulnerable there, like in the spotlight on a stage.
Where it was illuminated, the floor looked soft and plushy, like a carpet. The ceiling wasn’t as high as in the twins’ hall. I knew that there were machines everywhere, but they were hard to see and I wasn’t interested in them as they held no chances for escape. They were present only as dark threatening shadows.
The only areas I was interested in were the walls. There must be exits apart from the big, immovable roll-up door and the exit at the opposite side, leading back into the labyrinth.
As usual, there were strange noises in here. The roof was cracking, there was a slight wind rustling through the machines. I felt like I was being watched by something evil, nonhuman, lurking in the shadows, as I always did in the great hall. There was something here far more dangerous than the asshole who had kidnapped me. This was something much more terrifying. I could feel its malevolent gaze on my skin, making my flesh crawl.
I heard the rustling again. That was not the wind. Something was moving between the machines. It wasn’t that far away from me, maybe ten meters. I stared into the darkness, trying so see something, already knowing that it was hopeless. I moved backwards until I felt the cool wall on my back. Again, a rustling sound. Nearer, this time. A loud cracking sound shocked me to the core. I couldn’t help it. I ran. I might even have screamed. Through the dirt and debris, towards black gullet I came from.
I plunged into it, leaving the hall behind me, running towards the twins. Just as I passed them, an inhuman scream from behind shocked me to the core. I ran past the twins at full speed, my brain completely wiped clean by panic. Just before I reached the main corridor, my foot tripped over something and I tumbled painfully again and again. I heard him laughing in the background.
My panic left and the familiar hate took its place. I was back in my daily life, back in the shitty prison I was used to. This was bad, but the misery was at least created by a human. I knew that I would have to face the horror back there again someday, and the thought made me shudder.
It frustrated me that I still didn’t know what had happened back there. Had there been something or someone? Had it been Asshole who had scared me? Had it been my own mind paying tricks with me? I had no idea, and the uncertainty would have driven me crazy if my daily life in here hadn’t already taken care of that job.
I checked my body for broken bones, didn’t find any and painfully struggled to my feet. I felt my face getting hot from the humiliation while he was still laughing.
“Having fun?” he was mocking me while I checked myself for open wounds.
One day I’ll get you, I thought without really believing it anymore. I knew that I needed to stay away from fatalism, but sometimes I couldn’t help it.
“I was all right for a while.”
“I could smile for a while.”
The music was just to mock me.
“But I saw you last night.”
“You held my hand so tight.”
It was working.
“As you stopped to say hello.”
I stumbled further through the now brightly illuminated corridor towards the permanently closed red door and the main corridor to the left. I was still trembling, unsure whether it was from the panic, the run, the fall or the humiliation.
Once again, I looked at that damn red door while he graciously turned off the music. I always had the impression that this might be the entrance he used. I had looked at it many times, wondering how to get past it. Wondering what lay behind it, what I could do to unlock it. I had imagined all kinds of idiotic plans to trick him, to ambush him there. It was pointless; he would never open it if I was around.
Today, though ... something was different. The door wasn’t completely open, but it definitely stood a bit ajar. Suddenly I saw a flash behind it and jerked back, starting to run again. I stopped, puzzled. What kind of trap was that? Had it gone off too early? Then came the biggest shock of my imprisonment so far.
Someone behind the door mumbled “perfect shot,” whatever that meant.
I peeked behind the door and saw a huge guy holding a huge camera, looking fascinated at some worthless piece of old machinery. His face looked handsome in a chiseled delicate way. His face seemed to belong to an artist and his body to a lumberjack.
I risked a quick glance past him, down the unknown corridor. Unlike the labyrinth, it was very well lit. My eyes had trouble adjusting after having spent an eternity in the twilight. The corridor I saw looked so different and somehow normal that I immediately knew that this was the exit I had been looking for so long.
Who was that guy, though? With the same clarity that told me that this was the exit, I knew that this man was not my jailer. That guy looked totally harmless and blissfully ignorant while he still inspected that useless piece of junk. But who was he? One of Asshole’s friends? The pry bar sticking from the back of his jeans told me that he wasn’t. I was just trying to categorize him as an enemy, an enemy of my enemy or a friend when he turned around and saw me.
“Oh, sorry,” he said, holding up his hands as if I had a gun. “I didn’t know that the building was still in use.”
This was an important, possibly life changing moment. I needed to be calm and rational, calculating the potential risks and chances emerging with the new situation. Idiotically, what I actually did was freezing and suddenly becoming self-conscious about my appearance. I tried to take care of my body hygiene as best as I could, working with the few things I had. I had cold water in my cell whenever my captor was in a good mood. He usually was while I was recovering from major abuse. I had a small piece of soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a cheap plastic hair brush.
There was nothing I could do about my clothes. They were worn and torn from my little “adventures.” All I had was the jeans and T-shirt I was wearing when I was kidnapped. There was nothing I could do about my unhealthy pallor. While I didn’t exactly look like a bum, I certainly looked a bit like a ghost. He seemed to come to a similar conclusion.
“You don’t work here,” he stated, elegantly avoiding coming across as a genius. “Do you live in here?” He seemed to think about his own statement while I was simply at a loss for words. “Can ... can you hear me? You understand me? Tim,” he stated while pointing at himself and looking at me as if I belonged to some isolated tribe or maybe as if I was deaf or retarded. “Tim,” he repeated. “Me, Tim.” More wild pointing at his muscular chest.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m no idiot. You’re Tim,” I casually answered, as if meeting him in here was the most normal thing in the world. “Dani. Me Dani. Look. Dani,” I continued in the same idiotic voice, while pointing at my own chest and making ape-like noises.
We both cracked up and laughed until tears were streaming down our faces. It felt good. Damn, did that feel good. Those were the first words I had exchanged with a human being since I had entered this nightmare. Of course, I had communicated with my kidnapper, but you couldn’t really call that a dialogue.
One of the worst aspects of my so-called life was the constant doubt of my own sanity. Was I still able to talk and behave like a human being? Had Asshole broken me, turned me into a mindless toy for his sadistic amusement? This short talk and the joke told me that I was still there. I was still Dani. I was not completely broken. I could even trust a stranger on an impulse and laugh with him. Hell, I had even remembered my name without having to think about it. I felt a huge relief.
“Dani. What doing in here? You safe?” he continued in that dumb, but hilarious missionary-meets-native voice.
“No, actually, I’m not,” I continued in a civilized way, because I enjoyed talking like that. “I’ve been kidnapped and I’m held prisoner in here...”
My explanation was cut off by the sound of a door slamming shut down the corridor. I looked around in panic, but the dark red door leading towards the labyrinth was still open.
“What’s going on here,” he asked, now clearly agitated. ‘Boy, if a slamming door is enough to frighten you, welcome to my world,’ I thought.
“That was my captor, sadistic asshole, kidnapper, sick bastard, lowest scum on Earth. A man with many names. He’s closing our way out, it seems.”
“What?” was his reply, this time sounding naturally dumb, even without being in missionary-talks-to-native mode.
“This has the potential to get really ugly. Wait, let me check this door.”
I checked and moved the dark red door, but it wasn’t motorized apparently. Asshole hadn’t been able to lock us in by closing it from afar. I felt some relief because I wanted to keep as many options as possible. For some inexplicable reason I was pleased to find the now inactive pepper spray nozzles. It was the first trap I could see from the other side. Seeing how simple, even dilettantish, it seemed, took all the mystery out of it. It had worked fine, though. I still vividly remembered the pain and the fear of being permanently blinded.
Tim was looking at his cell phone, meanwhile, mumbling something like “no service ... Jammer maybe...” I thought that all in all, he had stayed remarkably calm. Either he wasn’t bright enough to fully grasp his new situation, or he was intelligent enough to know that panic wouldn’t help.
“Keep away from those,” I said, pointing them out. “Pepper spray.”
“Welcome to my world.”
I watched his pleasantly open face as reality sunk in. No need to stress him even more now. I remembered how terrified and confused I had been in the beginning. Of course, I had no one to guide me, as he had.
“What do we do now?”
“Good question, Tim. I’ve never been in this corridor before. That seems to be the exit,” I said while pointing at the grey steel door that had just been closed.
“Right. I came through there. I thought this old factory was abandoned. Schmidt closed down almost 20 years ago.”
“What? We’re in the old Schmidt factory? I’m almost home. Hell, I could probably see my house from the parking lot.” Frustration engulfed me. To be that close to home made this even harder to bear, mainly because it made no difference at all. I was just as unable to escape.
“Again, what do we do now? What’s going on here, anyway?” he interrupted my newly refreshed misery.
“The short form: I’ve been abducted from my home. I don’t know how, but I suspect I’ve been drugged somehow.”
“Is it just one person?”
“What?” I was truly baffled. “I’ve never thought about that. Yes, I always assumed it’s just one guy.”
“You know that it’s a man?”
“Yes, I hear him over the speakers from time to time. His voice is distorted, but it’s clearly male.”
“He distorts his voice. That means that he’s at least thinking about releasing you at some point. He doesn’t want his voice to be recognized.”
“Yes, I agree,” I answered, feeling like an idiot and trying not to show it.
“It could also mean that you know him.”
“What? Oh God, you might be right.”
In my mind, I frantically went through the list of men I knew, starting with that spooky salesclerk from the supermarket.
“So, you woke up in here?” he interrupted my useless mental flicker book.
“I woke up in my cell.”
“Where is it?”
“Through the red door, to the right, along the main corridor, then it’s a room at the right side,” I said, using my hands to describe the layout and feeling like an idiot for it.
“Okay. Let me think.”
No problem. We had plenty of time, although Tim might not yet be aware of that. I was reluctant to admit that I was a bit impressed by how quickly he had adapted to the new situation. He was thinking quite clearly, but that might just be the adrenaline. Shock and confusion might come later.
“So how does this work? How does he control you? Have you ever seen him?”
“No, I haven’t. I just hear him. He puts me to sleep, probably using drugs in the food. Then he sets up new ways to torture me. When I wake up, the fun begins. I’ll tell you later, in detail. There are cameras and microphones everywhere, but maybe not in this corridor. I’m not supposed to be on this side of the red door.”
“Okay. What about the grey door over there? That’s the exit. Let’s check it.”
He started towards the door in question when I stopped him.
“Wait, you have to learn to move cautiously. He has placed traps everywhere. We need to check the floor, the ceiling and the walls.”
The good news was that corridor seemed to be free of nasty surprises, but the bad news was that the grey door was locked and looked awfully solid. Tim grabbed his pry bar and was about to work on the door.
“Let’s assume this corridor is unsupervised.”
“Okay,” he asked.
“He doesn’t know that you have a pry bar then.”
“Tim I’ve never had a weapon in here. I’ve never had a tool. That thing,” I said, pointing at the bar, “might be a game changer. If you start working on the door now, he will know that you have something. Look at that door. Do you think the pry bar will make any difference?”
We simultaneously turned our heads towards the door. No chance. That thing looked solid enough to survive a nuclear war.
“No,” he admitted. “No use in giving away an advantage for nothing.” He gave me a resigned look. He was obviously just about to understand the situation in which he suddenly found himself. “There’s no other exit, right? Wait, forget that. Of course, there isn’t.” I just nodded. “He has kidnapped you and I know about it now. He can’t let me escape.” Again, I nodded. Best to let him come to terms with it in his own speed. “He’s kidnapped you, but he’s kept you alive. That sure won’t apply to me and might not even apply to you, anymore.”
“Oh.” He was right and he surprised me by thinking ahead of me this time. “You might be right.”
“The time for games between the two of you might be over. This is now us or him.”
“Right. Two people will be harder for him to control. He might feel threatened and become irrational or aggressive. If either one of us escapes, he’s toast. He’d be locked away for quite a while.”