The sound of my strangled breathing was all I could hear. My eyes were caked over with layers of skin, my nose, mouth, and ears as well. My cries for help and agony only reflected back at me in strangled gasps.
When I first gained consciousness, I immediately tried to pry the substance blocking my senses from my face. As my fingernails dug into the area which should have been my mouth, I felt the pain of self-mutilation. My fingers traveled up my “face”, feeling the smooth, featureless skin. No holes, no curves to indicate bone structure. I wouldn’t have known my nose was there if it wasn’t for the smell of decayed flesh clogging my nostrils. My entire skull had become nothing but a perfect sphere of unwanted flesh.
I fell to my knees, afraid to walk in my blindness. My hands searched the ground frantically for any type of clue, item, or something to help me. A shock of cold traveled through me and into my spine as I realized the texture: stone. A church? I couldn’t tell from the sensation.
From the cold of the stone and the slight breeze as I moved, I could tell my clothes were gone. Checking my body, I could feel canyons caked with what had once been fresh blood. Something about my lower body felt off, as if I had gone numb. The blood was still wet down there. Thorny stitches between my legs pricked my fingers at the touch.
I heard the dull moans of my screams once again. I wanted out, out of this prison of flesh and blood.
I crawled awkwardly, eager to find something or someone to help me, but afraid of what I might stagger into.
A sharp pain blossomed in the palm of my right hand. It was pinned to the ground like a frog ready for dissection. My body quivered as I struggled to discover the source of the pain. With my free hand, I felt what impaled me: a knife, roughly six inches.
I cried in pain, but also in desperation. Someone had done this. Someone else was in the room with me.
My pleas for mercy fell apart through the various layers of skin blocking my mouth. Why did they hurt me? Were they afraid of my grotesque shape, however it may appear? Was I a loathsome monster that he or she wished to exterminate?
No, no, I couldn’t think like that. My life rested with this stranger. I held out my free hand above what should have been my face, hoping beyond hope that they recognized my surrender.
A pair of jaws ensnared my hand, the rigid teeth within eviscerating my fingers like sausages. I acted as quickly as I could to save what fingers weren’t torn to chunks of meat. Sharp pain followed by numbness.
My naked legs slipped on the blood gushing from my hand, smacking me into the stone. Help wouldn’t come. If anything, the creature, or perhaps even creatures, surrounding me wanted me dead. But more than that, it wanted to see me suffer.
I tried to escape, but I had forgotten the knife wedged deep in my right hand. In a panic, I attempted to free myself with my other hand, only to realize the task would be difficult with most of my fingers missing, and what remained felt as numb as the rest of my hand.
I yelled for the beast to stay back, though whether it could hear me or not most likely didn’t matter. I was frightened of dying in a cage of flesh and blood, ignorant to what lay before my eyes.
Whether by my own hand or some other force, the knife slid free from my right hand, a jet of blood escaping the wound like water from a broken dam.
Despite the pain, I snatched the knife with my bleeding hand and swiped it in front of me. I felt it glide through the air like a leaf from a tree. No contact. The beast must have been keeping its distance.
I staggered to my feet, trying my best not to slip in my own blood. I twirled in place, knife in front, attacking as if I was surrounded. No contact.
The panting grew louder and louder within my skull, preventing me from hearing the creature that roamed the world beyond my prison.
My feet moved, one after the other, slapping the stone floor as I zigzagged. I didn’t know where I was going. I didn’t know if the monster was in front of me, to my right, to my left, or even behind me. My heart told, no, screamed for me to move. I obliged.
My body collided with a cold sheet, splintering and cascading my body with shards of glass. The knife in my hand ran away to be one with the shards, leaving me alone and frightened. I dispatched my one good hand to find it, but all I did was cut open the tips of my fingers from the shards.
Sick of it all, I grasped the biggest shared I could find and lodged it where my mouth should be. The pain tore through me like a wildfire as I sawed open a place for a mouth. The glass scraped against what few teeth I had, letting me know I had dug far enough. With my shaking hands, the mouth I gave myself was created.
“Please don’t kill me!” were the first words out of my newly developed mouth, each syllable spitting blood in the air like a mist. And then I devoured the air around me, gobbling up as much oxygen as my lungs could tolerate. Between each gasp for life, I muttered the words “help” and “don’t,” unable to put together another sentence.
Silence. No movement. The air was stale and laced with blood, but I couldn’t sense anything else. Had the monster left? Or perhaps it still lurked, watching and waiting.
I needed to see. Cutting open my eyes wouldn’t be as easy as my mouth. If I wasn’t careful, the glass could penetrate my eyeball, leaving me blinder than I already was. But I had to hurry. Who knew how much time the creature would give me before toying with me again.
I chiseled away the area where my right eye lay trapped. Every stab ran up my skull, shocking my entire body with pain. Thankfully, the hole I made for my mouth allowed the day old food and stomach acid to eject from my body without issue.
A haze of red told me to stop digging. I tore at more flesh, hollowing out the tunnel to give me more sight. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I dropped the shard of glass, shattering it with the rest below me.
With my right eye flooding over with blood, I could only see so little, like looking through a sniper’s scope on a foggy day. But the sensation of seeing was enough for me.
Though things were still hard to make out, I realized I was in a basement, ensconced in darkness. I wiped the blood from my only good eye, but like my tears, it would not stop coming.
“Please, let me live,” I gasped, clutching my body in a fetal position. From what I could see, nothing lurked in the darkness. But it had to be there, somewhere, watching me, despising me.
My heart sank to the depths of my soul; something was there. I sensed something in the darkness behind me. Why wouldn’t it move? Why couldn’t I hear it breathe? To ask if it was really there or not was a joke. I knew it was there. But why it didn’t do anything crushed the lungs within my scarred chest.
A single light bulb exploded into life, erasing the shadows of the room. Before me sat a vile creature. It was bone thin, gashes dotting its body like chicken pox. Not a haired covered its body, its lack of genitals giving no indication whether or not the monster was male or female. But the face…no, I don’t want to remember that horrid face. The single eye…the bloody smile mixed with bile.
The look on the monster’s face was of pure ecstasy. It wanted me. And it would not let its bloody, mangled claws out of me if I was caught.
I screamed. It howled.