This month's Friday Fright theme is 'Movie Monster Fanfiction'. The characters used herein are not my own and remain the intellectual property of their creators. Said characters are used here briefly in the spirit of fun and admiration.
I awoke to light and confusion and pain.
Brilliant lights and the stink of something burning. Flesh, perhaps? And pain; hot, tearing pain throughout my body. Was I burning? I tried to writhe, looking for some sort of physical release from the torment, but even through the pain I was aware of a kittenish weakness, a soft lassitude of limb which forced me to lie quiet and endure my torment. Faces above me looking down, and then gone. Voices shouting, shouting, but the meaning of their words was lost on me; the pain loomed too large in my mind for me to focus overmuch on the rest of the world.
I tried to cry out, but no sounds escaped my lips, denied passage by my loose and paralyzed tongue. When one is filled with nothing but pain time expands, distends until seconds seem as hours. Thus I lay for both an instant and eternity beneath their torturing hands before I passed, thankfully, into unconsciousness.
I awoke in darkness.
Darkness was my only companion in the small, rude chamber where I existed rather than lived. A cot. A chair. Four walls of brick and a stout wooden door, all explored with questing fingertips as my eyes stared blindly. I would find my way to the door again and again, never certain how much time had passed since last I had felt the gnarled wood. Tested the strong lock.
I circled my prison constantly, testing the walls until my palms burned raw from sliding over unbroken brickwork, never finding any aperture but the door; no way to let in even a view of the outside world. I was lost in time, with neither the passing of sun nor moon, nor even a candle by whose melting I could gauge the passage of minutes and hours. I had to move, had to test the walls, just as a distraction from my growing thirst and hunger... and the memory.
The memory of light, and confusion... and pain.
The true horror: this was my only memory. Beyond it there was... nothing. No hint of my life before. I tried again and again, knuckling my brow in frustration, but there was nothing before that terrible waking. I knew the word ‘cot’, though I could not remember ever seeing one. I knew the wooden portal was a door, could picture one in my mind, but as far as I knew I’d never encountered one before.
I knew nothing of who I was, nor from where I had come, as if my existence began with that flashing light, those shouting voices, and pain.
I wept, alone in the dark, not knowing how I knew to call them tears.
Then the hunchback came.
I was weak with hunger and thirst when I heard the scrape of a key in the lock. The door opened, light scything through the widening gap to strike my dark-accustomed orbs. The pain was blinding, my hand flying to protect my eyes even as they tried desperately to peer around the obstruction, hungry for the light. I lowered my hand slightly, allowing my eyes access to the world … and they came face-to-face with a thrusting torch.
Blinded once more I fell back upon the cot, shouting as the flame kissed my forearm. I cried out again as I heard the crack of a whip, felt the pain of the lash falling across my legs.
“Who are you?” I screamed, before the lash could fall again. “Why are you doing this?”
The sound issuing from my lips was just that: sound. No words, merely the inarticulate shout of a mindless brute. I tried to question my tormentor as the whip struck again but again it was a meaningless bestial roar. Somehow the words, so clear in my brain, were lost as they passed from mind to mouth, and I was forced to endure my beating like a dog in his master’s kennel, with no recourse but to curl protectively on my cot and weep.
Eventually my tormentor tired and went away, closing the heavy wooden door behind him. I dragged myself from the cot, pulling myself across the floor, compelled to test the door in case the lock had been forgotten and escape was possible.
It was not. In the darkness beside the door I discovered a bowl and bucket, the latter containing water, the former a thin gruel which I devoured in a ravenous instant.
This became my routine, my world. The tormentor would come, at what interval I do not know, with his whip and his flame, and I would receive punishment and sustenance in unequal measure. Eventually I made out his shape beyond the blinding torchlight; small, hunchbacked, and with a malicious grin as he demonstrated a particular strength of arm with his whip. I spent my beatings trying to communicate with him, but to no avail. I passed the hours of darkness between these terrible visits trying over and over to force words past my lips and tongue, but with no success. I had no past, no self, and no language — nothing but darkness and pain.
The door opened, the torch thrust forth, and I cowered on my cot as the whip uncoiled, leather whispering across the stone floor — and failed to strike. A voice shouted from beyond the door and the hunchback froze, looking back over his monstrous shoulder, fear stamped on his evil face.
Faster than thought I launched myself across the tiny chamber, slapping the torch aside and gripping my tormentor’s throat. I squeezed, shaking hard, feeling something snap beneath my fingers as I cast him aside like a broken toy. I stumbled through the door, running bodily into the man standing there. Taller than the hunchback though smaller still than I, he froze for an instant in shock. I struck the side of his face and he crumbled to the floor as I fled.
Up the stairs and through the halls of a great house I ran, finally finding the front door. I tore the door open, pelting down the wide front steps, nearly falling on wobbly legs.
I was free! Free from the tormentor and the cell and the dark! Free from pain and fire and hunger! Most of all, free to find out who I was, to find my place in the world.
Or so I thought. How wrong I was.
I looked back once as I fled the house. As I passed through the front gate to disappear into the night I looked back to see the name carved into the great stone lintel, the name of the house, of the family from which I had learned about fear and pain.
Note from the author:
Though I usually try to keep to my 1,000 word format I am a little over this week, to the tune of 121 words. I have a terrific amount of editing to do in the near future (some of the reason for this is explained in the sidebar to the right) so I lacked the time necessary to edit this story down as much as I might have.
I am now working with a publisher on a multi-book project, and have set myself up with quite a bit of work for the next few months. I still intend to put out a Friday Fright every week, and I will do my best not to let the quality of my storytelling slip here.
Thank you for being a Friday Frights reader.