Imagine a room containing your greatest fear. This is a description of my own Room 101.
|I must have been standing there for several minutes, because without warning, I feel an abrupt shove from the guard, thrusting me forward violently and propelling the doorknob into my hipbone. “Now!” he shouts at me.
“Al-alright,” I stutter in shock. Gripping the wooden knob, I look down at my torso. They have stripped me of most of my clothes, and I can already see a bruise beginning to appear on my pale, dry skin. My heart is pounding hard enough for anyone nearby to hear, and I can feel the guard’s breath on the back of my neck, warm and moist. It sends a shiver down my spine, and I know I have no other choice but to enter. Slowly, I turn my wrist, and the door swings in without any force.
The room that lies in front of me, I decide, is not really a room at all. It resembles a cellar, about fifteen feet long and wide. As I take my first few steps through the doorway, it is nearly impossible to see my bare toes in the thick, heavy darkness. One by one, bumps form up my arms and back, as the chilly, damp air consumes me. The only sound is the splash of dripping water, and as I pan my neck, the faint light from the guard’s flashlight reveals that the walls are trickling with moisture. A musty waft of air fills my nostrils.
Without a cue, the door slams shut behind me. My muscles constrict in fear and I let out a delicate gasp. The guard is gone, and I am alone. It is wholly dark now in the seemingly vacant room. A petite oil lantern flickers on ahead, the soft light exposing a wooden platform adorned with leather straps. “Well, what are you waiting for?” murmurs a man. His voice is hoarse, and his calm tone makes his presence incredibly haunting. The pit in my stomach grows to the size of a grapefruit, and I hold my breath, straining to hear any sign of movement.
“Who’s there?” I reply hesitantly. The man’s voice had certainly come from within the room, but there was no telling in which direction he resided.
“Well you couldn’t have possibly thought that I would let you do this alone, hmmm? Now, go ahead. Take a seat, and I’ll take care of the rest.” The man remains hidden, but I do as I am told and lie down on the platform. The wood is soft and damp beneath my skin, as tree bark tends to be after a heavy rain. I remain silent, but my body quivers. From the corner emerges a figure, the man. He moves without making any sound. As he approaches my side, I can distinguish his legs and hips, but his head towers above the halo of the lantern and out of sight. “Good girl. Hold still.”
Every part of my being craves an opportunity to object, but my fear keeps me silent and obedient. The man proceeds to bind the tough leather straps, first around my ankles, then around my waist, and eventually my wrists. He works swiftly and quietly, causing me to wince with every yank. “That wasn’t so hard was it?” he suggests upon finishing.
“What do you want from me?” I manage to yelp.
“You know exactly what I want,” he snaps back. “And I don’t want you just to say it. You have to believe it. So, I hear you know a little about arachnids. This is true?” The simple utterance of the word, arachnid, makes my skin crawl, but his sarcasm triggers a wave of defiance.
“No,” I bark.
“Really? Well, there’s no doubt that you will very soon.” The man’s face is still concealed but I can sense an air of satisfaction in his expression. He ducks out of view and, once again, I feel like I am alone. A brook of sweat has formed between my brows, but I cannot wipe it away, and so the salty solution enters the corners of my eyes, stinging them with every drop. The man reappears, but this time he is holding a small wooden box. “I bet you can guess what’s in here,” he sneers. Lowering the box, the man removes the lid, allowing me to view its contents. Lying still in the bottom of the box is a black tarantula about the size of a fist. My heart plummets, and I let out a whimper loud enough for the man to hear. My breathing quickens. My heart palpates violently against my chest. I snap my eyes shut in panic. Snickering, the man says, “And now my dear, the best part.”
“No!! I’ll do anything! Please!” I try aggressively to rip the bindings free, but I cannot budge. Rivers of tears run down my face, but the man is merciless. With a single blow, he extinguishes the lantern and it is impossibly dark again. Every gulp of air makes me choke, and I continuously fail to catch my breath. Then, several moments later, the man places the mammoth spider on my left foot, but I cannot shake it free. I feel the light load of its legs, tiptoeing deliberately up the length of my shin. “Oh my God! Please, stop. Please, make it stop!” The man does not answer. The tarantula reaches my neck, and my hysteria intensifies. Every movement of each leg is decipherable. In an almost rhythmic motion, the terror crawls a distance and then pauses before continuing. “What the hell do you want me to tell you? What do I have to do to get it off of me? You God-damned devil, please!” My cries become difficult to understand as I lose my voice, and the tarantula reaches the cusp of my lips. Finally, the man speaks.
“You love big Big Brother, don’t you? He can end your suffering.” I nod rapidly. “I don’t think I believe you. You do love him, don’t you?”
“Yes I love him! I love—I love Big Brother! I love him! Believe me, please!”