One girl's encounter with a masked rope-enthusiast. (Note: This is just a snippet!)
|I was totally helpless, sitting across from a stranger with a pale, angular, soulless face. Or to put it more accurately, a mask. There was no expression in its crevice-eyes, and yet the menace that emitted from the seemingly empty sockets was like nothing I had ever experienced. The corners of its smoothly-sculpted mouth were pulled downwards into an bad-tempered scowl, bottom lip drawn forward to form an almost child-like pout. I would have moved away, but I couldn't. Rope was wound painfully round my wrists and ankles, and another length was secured tightly round my waist, strapping me fast to a cheap, wooden dining chair. The stranger, who was sitting quite still in the chair opposite, could have been looking anywhere, but I couldn't help but feel like he was staring straight at me. He sat perfectly still, perched on the edge of the chair, forearms resting on his knees. He didn't move his head; it remained dead-straight on top of those narrow, rigid shoulders. He was the picture of symmetry.
I had a choice: I either sit here in silence and allow myself to be scrutinised by those blind-looking eyes, or I say something. Somewhere in the back of my mind, sensible-Kora was urging me to keep my mouth shut: "Say anything and he'll kill you," she said. "Keep quiet. He's bound to leave sooner or later. Then you can make your escape." But I couldn't do it. I had already endured thirty minutes of this insane silence and it was becoming unbearable. Unsensible-Kora piped up now, assuring me that I was probably going to die no matter what I decided to do. Might as well try for some answers...
"What am I doing here?" I asked, voice cracking from half an hour of silence.
Nothing from the masked guy. He remained perfectly still, perfectly creepy. I had to keep reminding myself that there was actually a person in there, and that he was just as human (at least anatomically) as the rest of us.
"I asked you a question."
Still nothing, although I thought I saw the mask shift upwards just a little... Was he smiling?
Suddenly, he raised one hand and placed a long, pale finger against his masked lips. In one smooth, balletic movement, he rose from his chair and drifted towards me. Kneeling, he reached down and began to untie the rope around my ankles.
"You're letting me go?" I asked hopefully, the nervousness at his sudden proximity causing my voice to shake. "Please, nobody knows where I-"
He lifted a finger signalling for me to be quiet. Fearing the worst, I obeyed. I tried to catch a glimpse of any weapons he might be carrying, but it was difficult to tell. He was wearing a tight, sky blue turtle-neck with a yellow band across the torso, and a pair of what I can only describe as pink harem pants, tucked into some striped, knee-length socks to match his jumper. All finished off by a pair of black, pilgrim-style boots, I thought the whole ensemble was a little too mismatched and garish for such an elegant and unsettling being. More importantly, if he did have a weapon, it could easily be hidden in the many folds of his trousers.
He unwound the rope from around my ankes and draped it carefully over his shoulder, then stood and made his way behind me, where he set about untying my wrists. I couldn't help but feel some relief as I gave my ankles a well-needed stretch. I felt the rope loosen then fall away from my wrists, and immediately stood up, only to find myself forced back down. Mask-man swerved nimbly back to face me, and pointed a sinister finger straight at me, then gestured downwards. "You. Sit." I got the message.
Lifting the rope he'd just untied from around my wrists, Mask-Man expertly fashioned himself a noose, then, to my horror, placed it round his neck and tugged it upwards, faced angled my way the whole time. He bought a hand to his porcelain mouth and made what appeared to be a laughing gesture, before lifting the noose back over his head and placing both ropes on the chair behind him.
The guy wouldn't speak. Maybe he couldn't. Maybe the mask was covering up something gruesome - something potentially freakier than what I was seeing now. I had flashes of stitched up lips, ripped out tongues, things that I had only ever seen in horror films. Was I going to end up like this?
Mask-Man motioned for me to stay put. The gesture seemed almost excitable, like a child about to show something to his parents - something he was proud of. "Stay put. I'll be right back," the motion said. I did as I was told. He didn't seem like he planned on killing me anytime soon, and I wanted to keep it that way. I waited, watched as he glided gracefully to the far end of the room. I couldn't quite see what he was doing, but I could make out a chest of drawers - the kind you might double up as a bedside table. He pulled open one of the drawers and took out what looked from here to be a box of some description. It looked wooden, but it was hard to say. As swiftly as he had gone, he came back, the box poised delicately in his pale hands. Upon further inspection, I noticed a strange, red-tinged varnish covering the wood. It looked uneven, badly covered. Coming to a gradual stop in front of me, he offered me the box. When I didn't take it immediately, he beckoned me forward. I tentatively stood up and held out my hands.
"What is this?" I asked quietly, taking the box from him with some hesitation. Obviously, he didn't answer. Keeping an eye on the strange, floaty man, I flipped the latch on the box and looked inside.
"I- I don't understand. There's nothing there," I said shakily, handing the box back to him. He didn't take it. Instead, he held up both hands as if to stop me in my tracks. Then, like a magician, he pulled out of thin air an antique-looking pocket watch. He motioned for me to open the box, so I did. Carefully, and somewhat theatrically, he placed the watch inside the box, then closed the lid.
He was still for a moment, one knee slightly bent as it had been when he was putting the watch away, and his arms outstreched as though he were mid-curtsey. Just as I was beginning to think he was stuck that way, he spun back on himself in one swift, graceful movement, into a pose I could only describe as flamenco-esque. I waited, fully expecting him to do something else.
Without warning, he was gliding across the wooden floor, his long legs effortlessly carrying him from one dancer-like pose to the next, the folds of his bizarre trousers billowing as he went. But he didn't appear to be dancing. Just moving from pose to pose, almost floating. I found myself transfixed. Sensible-Kora could just barely be heard, urging me to get out of there while my masked kidnapper was preoccupied.
Before I had a chance to decide whether or not to listen to sensible-Kora, Mask-Man stopped dead in his tracks in the centre of the room. He seemed to have stopped as he was transitioning into a pose, because the way he stood seemed unnatural. Graceful still, but not dancer-like. I set down the box and cautiously approached him.