No Hope Here

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
An ominous masked cult pits man against man in a drug fueled nightmare.

Submitted: May 03, 2016

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Submitted: May 03, 2016

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No Hope Here

Maxie Flynn

 

Years and years I’ve spent down here, breathing in the reek of urine and blood. Days and days of the same old screams and shrieks of those writhing in exquisite agony. The shackles on my wrists dig into my flesh, creating stinging cuts and becoming scabbed over and crusted with dried blood until they open once more to dig into my flesh again.

The door opens, the same way that it does every minute or month or so, but I’m never quite prepared for the searing pain of the light as it brands patterns of brilliant color into my eyelids. It’s torture, disorienting torture, to have your eyes continually adjust and readjust.

I open my mouth blindly, searching hungrily for the drug I’ve come to expect on occasions such as these. The squeak of the door hinges, the bright flash of light, and then the thick coat of chalky powder on my tongue. I’ll float into a blissful oblivion for a minute, or an hour, or a day. They’re conducting an experiment, I guess. I stopped caring eons and eons ago.

The drug, and the numbness that accompanies it, doesn’t come. Instead I feel a sharp burning sensation as the the metal cuffs are pried from my wrists and a trickle of liquid down my arms as the wounds gush open. I’m dragged from my sitting position and forced to stand on wobbly, cramped legs. I feel myself being propelled into the light and I sway dizzily on my feet.

When I regain my lucidity I’m sitting. There is a table in front of me that contains only a candle and a few sheets of paper. Opposite me there is a figure with white gloved hands folded in front of him, his face obscured by a mask. They all wear masks, the members of whatever sick cult is keeping me down here. His, or hers I guess, is plain white porcelain painted with a simpering doll’s face. The surface glistens in the candlelight as the figure gestures in my direction, speaking a word that I vaguely recall as being a part of my past self. It makes him giggle throatily.

“You’re awake,” he states plainly and I can hear now that it is a he. The gruff, raspy voice is completely at odds with the pouting red lips and rosy cheeks of his face. I don’t reply, instead giving a hoarse croak from somewhere in the back of my throat. This makes him chuckle.

“I assume you’ll be wanting more of what we’ve been giving you?” I can feel my eyes widen when he says this. He must see my reaction because he nods.

“Well,” he continues, “I’m afraid that we can’t just keep handing it out to you for free.”  

This nearly stops my heart. I can’t not have it. It’s been my only company for the weeks and weeks I’ve been trapped down here. Whimpering slightly, I try to form my mouth into words; I shape my lips into the outline of “please”. He chuckles once more, his eyes glinting out from behind the white.

“I’m sure we can work something out.”

***

The deal is simple. Deceptively so. All I have to do is go in whatever direction they point me in and kill whatever crosses my path.

And then I get some more.

The sounds get louder the further in we go. Deeper and deeper into the tunnels and closer to whatever fresh hell lies beyond. A buzz of voices, rising and falling in a vicious cadence, that seems to have a movement of its own. Screams and shouts and cheers and boos all fall over one another and reverberate down the echoing corridors.

We, two masked cultists and I, emerge into madness. In the center of what can only be described as a cavern is a massive pit. It has been scraped down into the stone floor of the cave and the sides have been worn smooth. Anyone stuck down here would be hard pressed to scramble back up, even if the sides weren’t slick with hot, red blood.

On three sides the pit is surrounded by a writhing crowd. A sea of masks, wooden and glass, simple and ornate, happy and angry, rises up to surge against the pit’s spiked barrier. The noise makes my head hurt.

Down in the depths of the massive hole, two combatants are grappling. They are both emaciated, just like me, and their ribs poke out from grayish, scarred skin. One has his bony legs wrapped around the other’s neck and is squeezing tightly. Suddenly, without warning, the second man flips his attacker over his head. He hits the ground with a sickening crunch and sits there dazed before his opponent is on him. I lose track of the commotion, but at the end of it all one man lies broken and bloody on the pit floor, his neck twisted and broken.

The crowd goes wild, yelling like a frenzied carnival attraction as the victor is hauled up. They screech raucously and I resist the urge to cover my ears with my thin, cracked hands.

“You’re up, kid,” says one of my escorts and I flinch backwards. A nervous knot winds its way through my belly, but I need my fix desperately.

As the spectators die down I’m led to the edge of the pit. With my head buzzing and my mouth dry, I half stumble, half fall down the smooth slope of the arena’s wall.

I can’t believe I’m doing this. The thought has barely enough time to register before my opponent, a hulking mass of teeth and bones, scrambles its way down on all fours. Then all my fear is swallowed up by an overwhelming need for the drug. I launch myself at it with reckless abandon, lurching on unsteady legs.

I can feel its hot, reeking breath on my face as I swipe my ragged nails at it. I can’t tell if it’s human or animal or a combination of both, but it makes a sound like nothing I’ve ever heard.

The thing rears up onto its back limbs and grasps for what I first mistake for silver scales or spines along its side. Then, with a hiss and the gleam of shiny metal, the metallic sheen turns out to be a blade, gleaming wickedly in the dim light. It is made of twisted and warped steel and looks razor sharp.

I duck, almost bashing my face against the floor, as the creature stabs at me with incredible speed. The blade whistles over my head and I feel it passing inches from my scalp.

Only now do I realize how out of shape I am. In the dark, sitting, all my strength had been leeched away. I pant, already out of breath, as my adversary advances once more. This time, I’m not as quick to dodge. The blade slides across my hand, leaving three glistening stumps where my fingers once stood. Then I’m pinned, trapped underneath the coiled mass of muscle as the creature slides its weapon inexorably towards my throat. I feel my vision begin to dim. This could be the end, and I realize that I barely remember who I once was. How can something end if I’m not even aware of its existence in the first place? I swallow, acutely aware of my hunger for the drug as bile rises in my throat.

My head is throbbing and I’m suddenly overcome with blind rage. I lurch upwards, ripping and tearing with my fingers, my nails, my teeth until the coppery taste of fresh blood fills my mouth and I can feel the twitching, pulsing, throbbing of his life blood pumping out of his savaged neck onto my face.

I’m only vaguely aware of being lifted out of the pit. I’m carried past a jeering, seething crowd. Their masks remind me of the demons that haunt my drug filled nightmares.

Suddenly I’m floating as thick white powder coats my tongue once more. I look down at my body as if from outside it. My spine emerges from the ruined flesh like barbed wire and my green eyes stare blankly out of gaunt sockets. My left hand hangs limply from the shackles, the three ruined stumps dripping blood with a steady pitter patter. I can just make out the lower half of my face in the darkness of my cell. I smile emptily, lost in the throes of addiction.

***

The door opens once more and I’m dragged by my wrists into the open. My face is still crusted with the life blood of the creature and I can feel it flaking off with every step.

The man with the porcelain mask sits across from the table. His painted smile is still glossy and his gloves are still pure and white. He whispers that word, the one that stirs blurry memories of myself, and it makes him chuckle.

In that instance the word snaps into focus and I just vaguely recall it as being a name. My name.

I giggle at the irony. The complete ridiculousness of a name like that. Hope. Who names a child Hope when there is none left in the world?

And then the cravings hit once more and I giggle my way back into oblivion.  


© Copyright 2017 Maxie Flynn. All rights reserved.

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