Her hair was stringy and greasy, an unwashed, tangled mess of brown hair that was probably once a rich dark chocolate, but was now lackluster. The rope only allowed enough slack for her to stand on the balls of her feet, and the muscles in her calves twitched and jumped. Her face contorted and a small whimper escaped her throat, like a rabbit flushed from a bush, and she lifted her legs up enough to flex her feet.
“Cramps,” she said, breathless from the agony.
“Wh-where am I?” he asked, surveying the small, metal box of a room. The dark gray walls ran with some kind of green mold intermixed with rust stains, like someone threw water on a particularly drab watercolor painting. A slow, steady trickle of water ran from the ceiling down toward a drain in the center of the room. Patches of dark red were splattered here and there, as though someone had taken a can of paint and tossed it about to add color.
There was a quivering spot, just below his sternum, that whispered, ‘That’s not paint.’ He resolutely turned his head, straining his neck to watch her, and waited for her response.
She shrugged, an interesting movement given her position. “I don’t know. I’ve been here a while,” she said, her voice raspy from disuse and thirst.
The end of her sentence echoed eerily against the walls, and should not have been possible in the tiny space. Her words thrummed through his mind, familiar in their cadence, and he tried to dig the memory out from the haze of his mind like a particularly obstinate rock from the dirt.
He turned his eyes away, not wanting to see his horror reflected in the muted despair and surrender of her dull hazel eyes.
“Don’t like it much, do you?” she asked, her voice changing from the consistency of gravel to the purr of a high-end sports car.
It snapped his head around like someone in a movie breaking a neck.
She was changed. No longer bound, she walked over to him, swaying her full hips. Jeans with artful rips in all the right places, and a v-neck, sleeveless coral shirt that shimmered in the low light that came from nowhere, yet everywhere, clung to her. She also wore a white, half-sleeve cardigan, and her hair was in in a messy carousel braid, hanging over her left shoulder and ample breast. Her strappy, caramel brown sandals had beads over the top of her foot, and revealed feet tanned to the color of Kahlua and Cream, just like the rest of her smooth skin.
His mouth went dry, and his heartrate picked up, beating against his rib cage like a man desperate to be released. He clenched his fists against the painful tightening in his jeans, and he licked his lips.
“Untie me, and you’ll find out just how much I like it,” he fairly growled.
She laughed, low and cruel, running her hands mockingly over her breasts and hips. “What, you don’t remember me?” Then she paused. “Or this?” she asked, and ran her finger over the tip of her tongue, and slowly pulled her lower lip down.
Then she pouted, and moved closer, until her breath was hot on his skin, even through the thin material of his blue cotton shirt; the one he’d picked because it matched his baby blue eyes.
“I thought I’d made more of an impression on you…” she trailed off, looking away.
His mind raced, still trying to place her, but it eluded him in the same way a nightmare dissipated upon waking. In fact, it gave him an uneasy sensation in his gut, much in the same way greasy food sat uneasily on a bottle of his favorite rum.
“I mean, a girl doesn’t get much closer to someone than being killed by him,” she whispered, and her eyes turned back to his, no longer hazel, but eyeless with the angry yellowish-red of lava in the center of the pits, and surrounded by the black of volcanic sand. Blood mixed with her mascara and ran in crooked lines down her cadaverous skin.
He jerked back. “What the fuck?!”
She tsk’d. “Such language. Though what did I expect from you? Certainly not this,” she said, and stepped back. Like magic, blood ran like a river from the corners of her mouth, and she opened it wide to reveal no teeth and her tongue cut out. She held it in a hand devoid of fingers from the second knuckle onward, replaced from that point on with sickly green, scaly fingers tipped with razor sharp obsidian nails. It was as though her human hands were merely fingerless gloves for something far worse hiding beneath. All her hair had been clumsily shorn, leaving clumps as an insult to her former beauty.
Her shirt sat oddly flat against her chest, as both of her breasts had been cut off, and blood soaked through the shirt. It fell from the hem in a slow, steady drip, and splattered on the floor in the softest of patters. The crotch of jeans was soaked through, too, and all down the inseam of her pants.
Recognition slammed through him like a bullet through the gut, and his breath caught.
She hadn’t been his first, or even his tenth. Not for him or his knife. He’d kept her chained in that box for weeks, prolonging the torture for as long as possible. First he’d taken her hair, removing the braid she’d played with coyly on their date, her tears of shame and humiliation making her makeup run almost as fast as she had when he’d taken her. After raping her more times than even he kept track of, and breaking her spirit to pieces smaller than eye could see, he’d stabbed her where all women were filthy and tried to control men. But not him. After that, there was no more amusement for him, so he’d untied her and made sure the police couldn’t identify her remains; his final act of control over all of them.
How was he to know the road to his favorite dumping ground had been washed out in the heavy rains, as his windshield wipers labored to keep up with the downpour? When the water swept across the road and took him into the river, it forced him to be the one to feel the fear he’d inflicted on others, as a force beyond his control took his life.
He choked on the remembrance of the river, and his eyes widened as he couldn’t look away from her gaze.
“Good, you do remember.” Then she smiled, her mouth full of brand-new, needle-like teeth, and a longer, prehensile tongue grew from the stub of the old, like watching a vine lengthen in fast-motion. When she ran it hard over his cheek, it tore flesh away as though it were made of shark’s skin, and she laughed as he screamed in pain.
“Stop!” he demanded, his emotions a maelstrom of fear and anger.
“But you didn’t, did you?” she asked, and pouted again, though this time it didn’t have the same effect on him. “You know, when I died they offered me a nice place for the rest of eternity, or I could join you here, and wallow in this miserable pit, but I would have my revenge.” She paused, as her smile grew even wider. “Taking the high road is overrated.” Then she straightened her fingers and stabbed her nails into his crotch, closing her fist and ripping everything away, flesh and clothing alike.
He howled like the winds of a tornado bearing down on a town, and thrashed against his bonds. She shoved her severed human tongue in his mouth, cutting him off, and he gagged against the cold, slimy flesh. Vomit hitting the back of his throat like a jab. But when the first icy touch of water met the flesh of his feet, he cracked open a tear-filled eye. The room was filling with murky water, fast, and pooled around his ankles. His panic spiked higher as the water level increased, and all she could do was laugh.
She grabbed his handsome face, her nails now stabbing the flesh of his cheeks, and pulling his chin down to look in her eyes again.
“You shouldn’t give it all up on the first date,” she crooned, throwing his words from their first ‘date’ back at him, like hot oil from a frying pan. “We’re going to have so much fun.” Then she rent the flesh of his face as he cried out around the tongue, blood, and water choking him.
The last thing he heard was her chuckling, the sound falling like heavy stones in his mind and against his flesh, and then all went black. He couldn’t breath, and his lungs burned with the water and blood that made its way past his constricted throat.
Again, her voice echoed in the dark, and it was then, for the first time, he knew their fear. The fear of the never ending. Of an eternity of pain.
Good, she whispered. There were times her dance with his pain was fast, like a quickstep, while others were slower, like a samba. Even though she’d given up the chance to be in a better place, sometimes revenge was enough.