Captives. Short Story.

Diana had been in the cell now for what felt like several months. She thought it had been about six weeks but she wasn’t sure, she kept forgetting her count. There was no outside light down here, just the harsh glare of the overhead lights. Meal times were regular but there was nothing definitive about them. They were all the same, no breakfast, lunch or dinner foods. It was always simple, a sandwich, a piece of fruit and sometimes, a miniature sized chocolate bar. The cell itself was small, just over six feet long and just under four feet wide. The only contents were her cot and a small toilet/sink combo. There was a thin padded mattress on the cot, no bed sheets and one thin pillow. The cot itself had a metal frame and was welded to the floor. Each screw seemed to have been welded into place preventing her from taking it apart. She had tried though. In the first few days until her fingers were raw and bloody. None of them had even moved slightly. She had been so hopeful then. That she’d be able to grab a weapon, that she would be able to push herself out when the door opened and escape. But she had no weapons and the door never opened. There was a small slot at the base of the door, opened from the outside and large enough for the food to be slid through and a rectangular window that had multiple layers of wire mesh going across it. When she had first arrived she had yelled and screamed for help, but the only responses were people telling her to shut up. They knew help wouldn’t be coming. Help would never come.

He came through three to five times a day. At first Diana had begged and pleaded with him, but he never responded. He just stared straight ahead, only stopping to unload a tray from his cart and slide it under a door. He wore the same clothes. Black trousers, a white pressed shirt and a white lab coat. The shirt and lab coat were blindingly white, there was never a spec of dirt on either. That, more than anything else, unnerved her. He wasn’t just some psycho, some guy who was descending into madness. No, he took care of himself, he was meticulous. He couldn’t be tricked, he couldn’t be distracted. He was methodical and single minded in his tasks. On days where he visited without food he would stop at one of the cells, open it and drag an unconscious body out. They would be loaded into a wheel chair and brought away. Sometimes they would be brought back, sometimes they wouldn’t. Those who came back were different. Some just screamed and screamed and screamed until Diana thought she would go insane from the noise. Other times they would just giggle to themselves. More often than not though they were silent. That frightened Diana, she had seen one or two being led back to their cell. They went willingly, a vacant look in their eyes, they stared straight ahead. One of them had been drooling non-stop.

She had tried to engage those around her in conversation, but only two of them would talk to her. She didn’t understand why, he didn’t punish them for talking or making noise. The two that talked were nearby, one across the hall and one cell to the left, the other in the cell next door. The angle wasn’t quite right for them to be looking at each other as they talked, but she could see glimpses of the other woman. The man beside her however was a mystery. Their stories were all similar. Out running, returning from shopping. The man, Brad, stopped to catch his breath and someone attacked him from behind. The woman, Tina, had been trying to open her from door when she was attacked and Diana had been going to her car after work. Diana didn’t remember much about that attack, nor did the other two. She remembered the fear, the pain of the bright lights when she woke.

It was after dinner when he came. Brad had been quiet but Diana didn’t think anything of it, he got like that sometimes and she didn’t blame him. She listened as he walked through the hallway, relieved in the knowledge that it wouldn’t be her this time. He stopped just after her cell. Diana’s heart started to beat faster, she crept to the cell door and peered out as much as she could. She saw that the door next to hers was open and heard some scuffling noises. Then he was wheeled out. Brad was younger than she had expected. His voice was deep and had a rich quality to it, she expected him to be in his early forties, late thirties at best. He looked young, maybe early twenties at most. He was pale and thin. She watched in silence as he wheeled Brad passed, up the hallway and out of sight.

Brad was one of the ones to return and he did so the next day. He stood just outside her door while he waited patiently for his cell to be opened again. He didn’t look at her, he just stared straight ahead. He guided Brad into the cell and closed the door, locking it again. Diana spent the rest of the night trying to get Brad to respond, say something, do something, but there was silence in the cell next to hers.

Diana woke suddenly, there was a strange bang, there it was again. Beneath it was a sort of shuffling sound. She thought it was coming from Brads cell. After a few minutes it stopped and silence fell.

When the next meal came he paused at Brads cell then continued passing out the food. Once that was done he returned with the wheelchair and wheeled Brads lifeless body out. Diana didn’t feel like eating. She picked at the food, only having a few bites.

She way lying on her cot when she heard him return. She wasn’t feeling well, everything seemed blurry and slow. He stopped outside her door, she tried to sit up but her arms weren’t responding. The door swung open and he stood there, smiling at her. She had never seen him smile before. His teeth looked too white, too white and too large. His eyes were a deep brown, but they were bright. He hoisted her into the wheelchair, strapping her down so she wouldn’t slide out. She had never noticed the straps before. She tried to struggle, to move, to do something, but her body wasn’t responding.

He brought her out of the corridor and into another room. This one was made of metal, all shiny and bright. He moved her from the chair to a table, he didn’t bother strapping her down. Warm water was sprayed over her carefully, she hadn’t bathed since she had been taken. He lathered up her body and rinsed her off twice. It was mechanical and he was distant the entire time. That somehow made it worse, he didn’t view her as a sexual object, he didn’t view her as a person. She was like a mannequin, hosed off when it got a little grimy. When he was done cleaning he patted her dry gently, then he strapped her down. She was starting to get some movement back, mostly in her fingers and toes. She tried to keep them still but they kept spasming. He looked at her jerking fingers for a few seconds, still smiling, “Can’t have that, can we?” a bottle was in his hand, he poured water into her mouth then held his hand over it. She tried to hold out as long as she could, but he was patient and her lungs were screaming for air. She swallowed and started coughing. He didn’t say anything, he patted her on the head and moved away. The room started to twist and turn then there was nothing.

 

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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