I will myself forward, yet hesitate with each unsteady step. My feet navigate through the blackness—lost. Then I stumble over something large. he wind blows again, carrying with it a foul, metallic stench. I gulp and bend over, my fingers feeling the object beneath me.
It feels soft, pulpy and wet with a dense liquid. I work my hands down the mass at first, stopping when I touch a knee. I realize wet pulpiness must have been a gash on the thigh. I suppress my pounding heart and continue feeling upward. Ribs, breasts, it’s a woman! I can’t help the glimmer of hope I feel for assistance. My elation fades as there is no rise and fall from breath. Still, I slide my hands up to check for a pulse, perhaps she can be revived. Despair and fear invade as my fingers slide into the cavity where her neck should be. It’s gone, her neck is gone and my hands are covered in her blood! Shaking, I force myself to my feet.
Panic kicks in and I run. I tumble over several ther bodies, then collide with a wall—sick and dizzy. My limbs smeared with blood, I continue seeking a way out of this dark hell I’m in. Hopeless. I struggle to recall how I wound up here. Where was I before this? I remember relaxing in the garden but the memory is vague. It was Mid-morning, I think, and my friends had absconded with me for my birthday weekend. Geraldine’s cousin Francis owns an estate far out in the country where they’d decided to throw me a party.
Exhaustion sets in and I lean on something that resembles a table. I begin to sob, my body quivering. I drift back to Francis’ estate and the party. I’d never met him before and I was nervous. Geraldine was determined to play a matchmaker and I’d been railing against it for almost a year. She enjoyed exploiting me in my vulnerable circumstances. I was embarrassed by her pity and loathed the way she paraded me about. Like I was some precious pet.
Francis’s demeanor was more sincere than others she’d introduced me to. His smile was warm, inviting, it was genuine. He uttered not a word as he kissed my hand, as though I were a lady in equal standing. Instead, he produced a small notebook from his pocket. There he’d written a question for me, but the memory of what was written remains foggy.
My head pounds and stomach tightens. Then I heave, vomiting half-digested food on the ground. I wipe my lips with the sleeve of my dress, sobbing.
“Hush, now. I’m here.” The man’s voice is calm when he pets my head. I retreat, skidding along my own vomit or perhaps blood—I’m not certain. The back of my head collides with another wall and I struggle to remain conscious. e swings a lantern over my eyes and I see the sinister grin spread across his face.
“I’m pleased you found the gifts I brought you!” He says, studying my hands with excitement. “I can’t wait to give you the rest of your present, love. You have no idea how long I’ve waited for this! But you look tired,” he says, frowning a little. “Rest for now, sweetheart. You’ll need to be awake for the procedure.”
“So good to see your baby blues staring back at me again.” He leans in and kisses my cheek. “Now, I’ve anesthetized your entire body so you won’t feel a thingI am certain that by now you’ve noticed that you can’t move either.” He begins preparing surgical instruments. “Understand that I need to be sure that you won’t move. This procedure is very delicate and I won’t have you dying. I love you far too much to lose you and I have worked very hard for this!” His face contorts in rage before he exhales, regaining composure.
“It took a great deal of time to find just the right ones. They had to be absolute perfection, I could accept nothing less for your gift. When Geraldine told me that the fever took your sweet voice some years past, my heart stopped. So, of course, when she inquired about having your party here, I couldn’t refuse! All I could think of was you and how I could restore to you what you had lost.” This man has clearly lost his mind. “My hands got quite dirty in the endeavor.” His eyebrow raises, a proud smirk gracing his lips.
He lifts my chin toward the ceiling and straps it in place. His burning gaze turns to my body and I know his hand is running over me. Thank God that I can’t feel his touch! My greatest hope now is that his hand will slip while he’s cutting into me and I’ll die. He smiles, placing the scalpel against my throat. Is he trying to fix me?
“I cannot conceive of sitting in a room full of wonderful conversation and being unable to participate.” A pulling sensation as he begins his incision. “When this is all over, you’ll thank me. You will be so very happy… I promise that you will. We’ll finish celebrating your birthday, we will all be graced with the silvery sound of your laughter, and then,” he sighs, “at long last I’ll hear your answer.”