Escaping the Dark

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story

I sit here in the dark wondering where I am. Another day of not even knowing what is going on right in front of me. I hear the footsteps-- heavy, loud. His hand grabs my arm, the whole thing fitting around a limb that was once twice this size. Then there is the sting of sharp pain for a split second. It is all over, my arm is numb and the pain is like the needle had never even pierced my skin. Then, like always, I start to nod off. I try to fight it but my eyes begin to feel like weights dragging the lids down, carrying me to my dreams.
When I wake, after who knows how long, I begin to plot my escape. It has become a daily routine-- wake up, get injected, fall asleep, wake up again, plot escape, wait for the beating, then do it all over the next day. However, today is not like other days, today is the day that I make it out. I clench my fist to form a small shape out of my hand. I gently squeeze it through the zip ties that hold me hostage, careful not to rip my fragile skin and draw blood. My hand is finally small enough to slip through. I quickly do the same with the opposite figure of bone and skin, which is all my body is at this point. After freeing myself I slowly uncover my eyes from the dark that had taken my sight for so long. The room is dim with brown walls and stained, tan carpet. It seems as if a little boy had lived here once, it looks quite similar to my room as a child in fact. On the north wall lies a bed accompanied by a nightstand. A dresser stands at the south wall and baseball equipment litters the room. The thought of a little boy living in this place, the place that holds my worst nightmares, terrifies me.
Then I hear him. That raspy cough that comes with every lit cigarette. The heavy footsteps made by combat boots that are accompanied by a slight rough shuffle on the hard carpet. The broken breaths that become louder with each step, until it finally stops right before the door allowing me to hear every exhale. The scrape of metal on metal as the doorknob turns, granting him into my room. The thundering crash of metal meeting bone. Then silence.
Except this time I am not the one left to die. I stand over his body stunned at my strength. I look at my shrimpy little arms and my wobbly legs wondering how I could have ever done something like this in my condition. I have never seen myself so skinny, almost showing the outline of every bone. It is amazing what adrenaline can do. I look down at my shirt. The once cream colored cloth is stained with a brownish-red. The blood from the man’s temple is scattered across my shirt. I can only tell mine from his by how wet it is. I back away, panic flooding my head. I run to the corner of the room and throw up, just another stain on the blemished carpet.
“What do I do now?” I whisper to myself. I slide down the wall and sit on the rancid carpet. I cover my face with my palms and begin to scream, hoping that someone will hear me and come to my rescue. That scream turns into me sobbing and eventually I am both screaming and crying at the same time. No one comes.
Calm down​, I tell myself repeatedly. ​I just have to find my way out of this place, then I’ll be fine. Everything will be fine.​ I step over the lifeless body lying limp in front of the doorway. I refuse to look at his face, the face that has caused so much pain in my life, my family’s life. I leave him here to die--alone--just like he would have eventually left me. I drag myself through the house. Through the living room with the ripped couch and the blaring TV. Through the kitchen with crumbs all over the counters and dirty dishes in the sink. A mouse runs across the floor in front of my feet, reaching its hole in the wall. ​Wow,​ I think, ​the only other thing willing to live here is a mouse.​ I wonder if he had a family once, a wife, maybe kids. What could have gotten him to the point of drugging, kidnapping, and abusing a seventeen year old boy like me. Plus, who knows what else he would have done. I push the thoughts out of my head because I do not want to think about him, not now and not ever again. I finally reach the door, a slab of wood holding splinters and peeling paint that reveals the light tan underneath. I am finally free.
I step outside. It immediately feels like a weight is being lifted off my shoulders. I hear a crows faint cry in the distance. I feel the warm October sun on my skin, the cool breeze whisps the tips of my hair. I have not felt the outside air in so long that I just stand here for a moment, breathing in the autumn winds. I now realize that I am standing in the middle of a forest. The house is surrounded by nothing but woods, not a single neighbor in sight. ​No wonder no one could hear me,​ I think. I begin to stumble through the woods, leaving this disgusting, terrifying place as soon as possible. The darkness begins to close around me, limiting my vision. I start seeing spots and my head is pounding. I try to slow down but my legs are going way faster than I want them to. I try to control my rapid breaths, but they will not stay steady. I stagger upon a hill, losing my footing and fall until I am able to stand back up and go again. Down the hill I see a road, I run to it. My feet hit the hard pavement and for a minute I feel completely safe. Security eludes me as my body is thrown across the asphalt. I lay here on the cool ground, staring at the gray clouds. The only thing keeping me warm is the blood rushing from my temple, a pool swarming around me. A vivid memory occurs to me, the feeling you get after getting injected with whatever it was that was in my system. A quick pinch then nothing, just numbness.
Through blurry vision I watch as a pair of crows fly from the power lines above to the sky over my figure, forming a circle in the pale blue.


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