A woman is held captive and learns the extent of what she must do to survive.
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By Lisa McCourt Hollar
Her finger nails were broken, the skin surrounding them bloody and bruised. She sobbed, scraping at the door, begging for him to open it. Silence met her pleas. She ran to the window, where she’d broken the glass, hoping to escape. Bars blocked that exit. She screamed for help and was met with the same familiar silence. There was no one around to hear her… no one that cared. After a while she gave up. She didn’t know how many days she was there. Hunger came and went. She became delirious. Her lips chapped, she cupped her hands and pissed in them, lapping up the liquid. Then she knelt on the floor and drank from the puddle like an animal. In the distance she heard a sound echo, familiar and longed for. A click… the lock on the door had turned, opening. A small bundle was thrown in and the door locked again.
She threw herself against the door again, pounding weakly. As always, no one answered her cries for help. The tears came. She put her ear to the door. Was he listening? She heard nothing outside, but inside there was a new sound, a mewling that answered her cries. She crawled to the bundle that had been tossed in the door. It was a small object wrapped in cloth. She stared at it, uncertain. Then she heard it again, a muffled cry. The cloth moved. She snatched it up and pulled the material away, revealing an infant… a boy.
The baby was naked, the umbilical cord was still attached. She held him close, cradling him. She felt him nuzzle her, rooting around, looking for someplace to latch onto and feed. “I’m sorry, baby,” she whispered, her voice weak, “I don’t have what you need.” Still, he continued to search, crying for sustenance. Her stomach cramped, sharing his need for food.
She sang, attempting to ease his pain. Sticking her finger into his mouth, she felt him pull, trying in vain to suck anything out that would satisfy his hunger. Angry, he squalled, then sucked again, harder, desperate. She felt that if it would help, she’d cut her finger and let him drink the blood. Eventually he slept. She wondered how long he would live without food. How long would she?
She slept too and dreamed. She was home. Her father was cooking hamburgers on the grill.
“Stacey, bring your plate here.”
He put a burger on her plate. She picked the meat up, not even bothering to put any condiments on it. She bit in, moaning as the juices squirted into her mouth. She chewed, swallowing whole chunks of meat. There was something wrong with the burger. It was raw. But Stacey was hungry, she didn’t care. Liquid dribbled down her chin. She ignored it, tearing more meat off. When the burger was gone, she reached for another and devoured it.
It was the baby’s screams that woke her. She opened her eyes and gagged. There was something in her mouth. She looked down at the baby and saw that the cloth was now soaked in blood and the child’s arm was ripped open. She spit, horrified by the masticated meat that landed on the baby. She screamed and dropped the baby.
“No. Oh my God, no!” She crawled to a corner and wailed. What had she become?
Soon the baby’s cries stopped. No longer able to find tears, exhausted, Stacey cautiously approached the boy. His eyes were open and he stared ahead, unseeing. His chest rose, slowly. He was alive, but dying. She picked him up and sang. Her stomach cramped. She knew if she didn’t eat, she would die too. What choice did she have?
She piled the bones in the corner and covered them with the blanket. She didn’t want to look at the evidence of her depravity. In another corner she emptied her bowels. Then she curled up and went to sleep.
She didn’t know how long she’d been there, it could be hours, it could be days. Weeks. Time no longer held meaning. Then the door opened again and something was pushed through. The door slammed shut and the lock clicked in place.
This time it wasn’t a baby. Standing in front of her was a child… maybe 10 years old. The girl retreated to one side of the room, huddling next to the blanket. The child nudged the blanket with her toe, revealing a small bone. She eyed Stacey. The girl had a hunger to her eyes that she recognized. She understood the look, knew what the girl had done to survive to this point. Stacey leaned up against the wall. Her stomach rumbled. A breeze blew in from the broken window and her fingers brushed against broken glass. Picking up one of the splintered shards, she waited. She knew when the time came, she could take her.
Word Count: 816