by J.E. Allen
SCREAMS!!! Contest Co-Winner - March 16th. 741 Words.
|Under the summer sun in the middle of an unknown desert, Morris Whitley found himself walking barefoot in a mixture of sand and rock. His hands were chained above his shoulders, to the arm of a heavy wooden wheel, designed to keep the tortured prisoner walking in a circle. Forever.
The chains bit into his soft wrists with each step and the wooden arm dug into his shoulders. His feet not only burned from the intense heat, but also from the small cuts becoming impacted with small, sharp grains of sand. He was allowed only a small loincloth as protection from the elements. The cloudless sky let the sun burn his skin without remorse. Crying out for help was no use, every time he tried he was met with silence. His voice was hoarse from dehydration, and he needed to conserve his energy. If he could have one wish on earth, it would be for rain.
There were five arms on the wheel, but Morris could only see the two in front of him. The others disappeared beyond the curve and he could not turn his head. The arm directly in front of him, held only two dangling chains from the wooden shoulder plank. But the arm in front of that, held the torso of a man, hanging by his chained wrists. The bottom of his bloody torso, barely missed being dragged across the ground. How long had he been there? What happened to his legs?
Morris’ feet, skin, eyes, shoulders and legs all burned. The pain was unbearable. After twenty-five revolutions the wheel automatically stopped. Morris was grateful for the moment of rest. Due to the ruts forming in the path of his fruitless travels, he could tell he had been there for a while. Or were these ruts formed by his predecessors? Morris didn’t know.
Just when Morris’ legs were beginning to feel better, a loud mechanical screech ripped through the air. Unable to put his hands over his ears, he prayed for his ear drums to burst for some sense of relief. The ungodly sound was coming from the wheel’s center column. The entire wheel and arms dropped down six inches, causing him to bend at the waist. The wheel started its slow movement once again. The dead weight on his shoulders was almost more than he could handle.
After twenty-five more revolutions the wheel screeched and dropped another half-foot. Doubling the pain in his back. He had the feeling it wasn’t a mechanical error, and this horrifying contraption was designed to keep getting lower.
Morris was teetering on the edge of sanity. There was no way he could walk forever, with the wheel dropping lower, and the weight on his shoulders trying to break his spine. Each step soaked the sand and rock with blood. With each revolution of the wheel, he followed in his own bloody footsteps. He lowered his head and brought his chin as close to his chest as possible, and crashed his skull into the wooden arm. The pain was incredible and his vision faded to gray. He launched his head even harder again and this time, the world faded to black.
When he came to, Morris could barely see through the sweat and blood in his eyes, but the heat from the sun was still burning his face. He could feel that he was hanging from the wooden plank and that this nightmare was real. When his vision finally returned, he looked down at the ground. Morris’ legs were still moving forward, in perpetual motion as if being controlled by an outside force. The entire time he was unconscious, his body kept moving along the path of the wheel. His feet were now bloody stumps, worn down to the ankle by the weight on his shoulders. Each step dug into bone and tore away more flesh. He looked ahead at the torso hanging two arms in front, and he now understood what happened to that poor soul. The screeching started once again.
Morris Whitley would never find out why he was chained to the wheel, or who had put him there. He would also never remember dying in a car accident, after driving home drunk one Wednesday night. He had never even seen the faces of the young mother and child he had killed when he passed out behind the wheel.