The sound of liquid hitting the floor echoed loud in my head. I massaged my temples. Looking up, I smiled at Nickel who’s grey face was two seats ahead of me at the dining table. The gaping oil painting beyond her dripped black down the canvas onto the dark maroon wall. A patch of pale white like an eye stared blankly ahead. The assemblage was small and baroque, off-key piano music was in my right ear. The long table was clothed cream and the glimmer of the candle light reflected off it, tinging the air a grimy yellow. Grey was in the second seat on the left, sloshing his soup. He was trying to get the cat eyes to one side of the bowl so he could eat. Drip. Drip. The curtains behind him buzzed with flies and hung off on one side. A particularly loud laugh drew my attention and I turned my eyes past Grey to the see the wide smile of our host as he leaned towards a face the colour of Platinum. The gaping hole in the window behind them let in a cold breeze and I shivered in my seat. Heavy metal scraped against the stone floor. The sheerness of our clothes made it hard to avoid trembling. Ash was munching on stale bread, his mouth moving in the way of words but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. A buzzing in my ear drowned out all else. His gauze shirt was ripped diagonally and he kept jerking in his chair every minute or two. The hairs on his arms and upper body were standing on end. Drip. Drip. The slight inflection and rise in pitch would catch me once in a while but I always recovered. Some times I could actually hum along with it for the table would look to me with wide eyed, stretched out smiles that showed their back teeth. Drip. Drip. Then I would feel a curious mix of helplessness and bitter relief.
The tables had long been cleared as I walked down the corridor with the repast rooms. The host was in one of them, his mouth open wide in a fit of obvious, eager hilarity. His arm was locked around the neck of a faceless person, while his other hand was fisted, slamming repeatedly into the gaping person’s mouth. I don’t know how his mouth stayed gaping, but I could see so clearly the bloody darkness of his insides, hear the sticky, sluggish sound the fist would make every time it made contact.
I was making my way up the stairs in the blue air when I ran into Ash. His walk was troubled and a trail of grey fluid followed in his wake. His face, blanked out with ash, told me that the host has called me in the common area. The periphery of my vision supplied that there were more faceless people within as I took a chair in front of the table. The host was short in stature, with a pink complexion and an overly large head. His shirt was stripped vertically, and his eyes and hair were brown. He started speaking and I saw his mouth work to convey his message but only the same buzzing noise I had heard earlier reached my ear. I made to clear my throat to see if I could hear myself, and it worked, and that’s when his words reached me.
‘ I hope you will understand. ‘
‘We need to make room for more people here. So you are going to be transported to another location.’
‘But my family. What about my family? I haven’t seen them since I woke up here.’
‘And the same will happen where you are going now. I suggest you forget about your family as soon as possible. I highly doubt whether you will see them again.’ His wide smile was firmly in place.
Dread threatened to overwhelmed me as I looked at his sociopathic face. He looked too… everything. Too… much.
‘Where exactly are you taking me?’
‘Now now, don’t you worry your pretty little head about that. Timmy and Jimmy will be along at midnight to get you. That is all.’
The chair was fairly yanked out from beneath me and I had to hold on to the table so as not to fall. That ghastly smile had not moved so much as an inch. I pushed off of the table and turned to leave. Grey blank faces stared at me as I walked away, but in my mind’s eye that wide abnormal show of uneven brown teeth was playing in a reel.
The buzzing is what woke me. It came like a vibration in my head, and my body shook with it. Darkness. I breathed in deep and smelled dust. Coughed. The right side of my head was on torturous fire and I could feel a wetness down the side of my face. Warmth surrounded me. I was naked under the sun. I tried to move my limbs but they felt weighed down. Under water. That incessant buzzing in my ear would not stop and I wondered if perhaps I was going deaf. My body was suddenly jolted and my head came into contact with something solid and I almost threw up. But at the same time I saw the briefest shaft of light before it all went dark again. I marshalled all my senses to take stock of where I was and what was happening to me, but my body felt weak and my head was disoriented. The heat and the stuffiness in the air were not helping. I wished the vibration would stop so I could concentrate. I tried to command my hands to move but again they didn’t. I settled for moving my head. Slowly, I lowered it to define my bearings and almost immediately bumped into something warm and soft. My heart almost stopped.
‘Who’s there?’ came a small terrified female voice.
‘Who are you,’ another, a little distant, called.
‘I can’t see,’ came from my left.
‘Can you please untie me?’ cried a voice in front of me, almost teary with fear.
‘I can’t move my arms and legs,’
Please, I can’t see,’
‘Where are my clothes?’
I felt sick to my stomach. Immobilized with terror.
The warmth I had bumped into moved and there was a brush of bare ribs against my face and the touch of a knee against my naked hip. Then the naked bodies all around me seemed to move at once and it came to me that the buzzing was the noise of the engine beneath us and the vibration was that of a moving vehicle. We had just hit a bump. I was tied, blindfolded and naked in a truck, along with what sounded like 30 other females. I knew immediately and completely I would never see my family again and that loss filled me so completely it spilled out my throat with a harsh cry. The floor continued to vibrate beneath me and the quiet whimpers of the others permeated my senses.
‘Don’t cry,’ was spoken so softly I almost thought I imagined it.