Archive for August, 2012

Excerpt 121

Ala looked at the needle stuck into her finger. Nausea overtook her before the pain caught up.  Bruno wiggled it in deeper and blood pooled around the metal. Her eyes fluttered as vomit dribbled from her mouth silently.  Bruno’s eye widened as he tried to scoot his shoes away, but she coughed and some of the burnt yellow bile landed on his toes.

He held out his hand and one of the masked men brought forth a red hander kerchief.  He wiped off his shoe, folded it in half and stood up.  Grabbing the back of Ala’s neck, he shoved the handkerchief in her mouth.  She gagged and he pushed harder into the pressure points on the sides of her neck with his fingers.  He released and, feeling faintish, she pushed her heels into the ground. He removed the cloth from her mouth and handed it back to the man.

“How about a guess now?” He said, pulling the needle out slowly.

“Emmanuel,” she said.

“That’s an interesting guess,” Bruno said. He pushed the needle into her knuckle on the same finger where he had punctured the cuticle.  She winced.  “Have you had any water today?” She shook her head that she hadn’t.  He nodded and the masked man carried a bucket to the back of the room where a spigot stuck out of the wall.  She heard the water begin to fill the bucket and felt her pants wet with warm urine.  Bruno looked down at her legs and back up at her.  He pushed the needle deeper into her finger. “Do you have anything else to say today?”

She stayed quiet.  He was unstable and she wasn’t sure what would trigger him to cause her more pain.

He gestured to the man at the spigot, who turned off the water and carried the bucket over.  Bruno took the bucket and flung it forward, drenching her in the cold water.  She gasped her air as they laughed.  The other man, who had done nothing the entire time, released her from the chair and tied her wrists to her ankles, forcing her back into an extreme arch.  Her stomach was stretched out like a drum and her bones shook as if they were going to snap.

She cried openly and wished they would kill her and end this. And then she thought of Danno and how he must be looking for her and how the last time she saw him was not an adequate goodbye.


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Excerpt 120

Images, sound bytes and severe recollections flew around her mind.  There was a brief moment of relief, which comes when you recognize someone, anyone, you know in unfamiliar surroundings.  Ala remembered being lost in the grocery store in the fourth grade. She and her mother had disagreed over which notebook she would buy for reading class, and Ala stormed off in a huff. Five minutes later, she had no idea where her mother had gone and thought that she may have gone as far as to leave her at the store and drive home.  It was a common threat when Ala wasn’t cooperating in a public place. Ala took deep breaths and wandered through the produce department, wanting to appear cool and comfortable and unlike a lost nine year old.  When she spotted Gertrude’s mother near the eggplant, she almost ran up and hugged her.  It did not matter that Gertrude’s mother was unkind and that Ala hung up the phone whenever she had picked up.  Seeing someone Ala knew meant that she was still in the world she lived in. It meant that everything would be fine.

At first she had the same feeling when seeing Bruno.  His sneer that previously had made her skin itch, was now welcome, and she could not wait to hear about how this had indeed been a mistake, and that she could go anytime she wished.  Soon though, when taking in more of his appearance, she began to feel uneasy.  He was dressed in business casual attire; unlike the rags she had seen him wear while gardening.  His hair was combed back and held in place with some type of serum that added extra shine.  He also had on black shiny shoes that were slightly pointed at the toe.

This was not the same man who worked as Emmanuel’s gardener.  Of course, he was the same man she had met, but now she saw that he wasn’t actually only a gardener.  He spoke to the men in their language and Ala’s armpits moistened again with frigid sweat.  He knew them. He had told them to kidnap her.  He was mad that she would not let him inside of the house to get his things.

She thought of his nose pressed against the screen on the door.  He was plotting, trying to think of payback.  She should have let him inside while Danno was there.  Nothing would have happened if there were another man in the house.  Bruno turned toward her and removed a small tube from his shirt pocket.  Opening the top, he removed what appeared to be a needle, and began to clean his teeth.  She tried not to watch him, but feared that he would be angry. He wanted her attention if he was cleaning his rotten teeth right in front of her.

“Do you know why you’re here?” He said. His voice was very clear and confident, much different from his strained frustration he spewed out when he standing on the front steps. Ala shook her head that she didn’t. He rolled the needle around in his fingers, working a molar, and then flicking crud off of the tip.  “Really? Why don’t you take a guess?” She looked at the two men, still wearing their masks, and tried to calculate how far away she was from the door. “Well?”

“I don’t know,” she said, looking down.

Bruno smiled, let out a soft laugh and looked at the men.  He picked up one of Ala’s hands.  She was surprised at how her wrist ached.  He took the makeshift toothpick from his mouth, smiled at her, and then jammed the metal point into one of her cuticles.

“That’s not a guess, you stupid bitch,” he said.

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Excerpt 119

Both men wore black plastic ponchos and matching rubber boots.  Behind them, she could see a wide stretch of mountains covered in evergreens.  Colossal clouds framed the sun and she could not understand why these men were dressed for rain.  They wore Guatemalan dog masks that she was able to identify because of a South American art critique she stumbled upon when visiting the library.  One mask featured a large red tongue between sharp teeth and the other had exaggerated eyes with very long eyelashes. The wood looked brittle and was held to their heads with single pieces of string.

The masks comforted her, not only because she couldn’t fathom any seriously dangerous people wearing them, but also because they reminded her of the real life she hoped to return to. One man bent, lifted her underneath her arms and threw her onto a straight back chair.  The other man tied her wrists and ankles to the legs.  They worked quickly and quietly.

Ala clenched her thigh muscles to keep from wetting her pants. She was desperate for conversation after lacking contact with anyone for days, or possibly weeks.  The rope scratched roughly against her scraped ankle and she whimpered. The man reached up and pulled her hair.  She flinched. The other man laughed, began to cough and spit on the floor.

Through exhaustion that she had a difficult time fighting through, Ala began to wonder if anyone had realized that she was missing.  She hoped Danno was trying to find her, but feared she was taken to another city or state.  Her body was weak from not eating or drinking and she didn’t think she would be able to walk even if she could break free from the chair.

She tried to take in the room.  The floor to ceiling windows that surrounded her indicated that she was very high up, perhaps even in the side of the mountain.  There was no clear motive as to why she was being held captive. She heard a door behind her open and as she craned her neck to see, Bruno was walking toward her, his yellow teeth taking up most of his face in a smile.

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Excerpt 118

After another indefinite amount of time, Ala’s eyes opened, only because light was making its way through the burlap and into the crevices between her eyelids.  The front of her head was burning with pain she had self inflicted by bashing her skull into the ground repeatedly.  Her body smelled of the sweat that had sunk back into her pores, as if a fever had broke, which made her wonder how it must feel to be covered in afterbirth.

Her hearing was distorted by a low buzzing. She could sense that she was in a place that had a healthy flow of fresh air.  She tried to suck the air into her lungs through the mask as quickly as possible.  The obvious change in location made her feel better, even though her ankles and hands were still bound.  Still though, this environment offered a small ounce of freedom with the air and the light.

Someone may have been trying to scare her, or send some kind of message, and had changed their minds is what she hoped.  Perhaps gradually, she would obtain additional small freedoms, until finally being released. She brought her tongue to the roof of her mouth and rubbed it against her gums, trying to generate saliva.  She had not had water during her run or since and was aware that she could die from dehydration.

More than one set of heavy soled footsteps approached and she squeezed her eyes shut.  The sack was ripped from her head, burning the skin on her face. The ability to focus her vision brought on a headache.  She looked at her captors, reminding herself to take note of all of their features and details in their clothing to later tell the authorities.

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Excerpt 117

What seemed like days later, but what could have been only hours, Ala lay on her side shivering violently, scared that she would bite her own tongue off.  The rather small shorts and sleeveless top, she had ran in, were stuck to her body, bound by sweat. She tried to breathe deeply, but her body writhed trying to stay warm.  She was exhausted, but knew that sleep would not come while she was freezing to death.  She feared that if she wished to pass out, that she might not ever wake up.

What felt like millions of tiny, hairy, legs trickled over her calf. She kicked rapidly and her knee hit some kind of grating that made her yelp out.  She didn’t know where the creature was.  It could have been crawling between the crevice of her breasts, or worse, making its way inside of her.  She thrashed, screaming, feeling like creatures were nibbling away at her skin.

The worst had not been over.  She was blinded by the sack and had no control over her body. She had no idea how much time had passed or where she was.  The most heart curdling was that Danno did not know where she was.  What if he thought she had left him or wasn’t speaking to him?  He could move on, find someone else….

This was too much.  She brought her head up and forced it down hard on the ground.  It hurt, but she remained fully conscious.  She did it again, this time harder.  Tears ran down her cheeks and she smelled her sour breath circulating under the sack.  She would hit head against the ground under she couldn’t think anymore.

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Excerpt 116

She felt her insides shrink up as she braced herself for the punishment.  Sure enough, a hand reached up under the sack and pulled her hair four times, each pull harder than the last.

There was more laughter.  The first two tugs hurt and she chomped on her bottom lip to keep from crying.  Strangely, by the time the last tug was over, she couldn’t feel anything.  Her whole scalp was numb.  If he took out clumps of hair, she had no idea.

The man then ran his hand along the front of her neck and clenched it.  She was not choking, but could not move and feared that he would snap it.

“You’ve got a problem listening.” He dug his fingernails into her skin. Again, after the first few seconds, there was no pain.  She wondered if these men had intentions of killing her.  If not, there may not be anything they could do to her that was scarier than what she had already been through.  If they did want to kill her, why hadn’t they already? He held her head in place and brought his face up against the sack. She could feel his breath on her chin.  “Now you’ve got nothing to say?”

“Not to you,” she said quietly.  He squeezed tighter, then pushed her head back, so it hit the wall.  He muttered something to his partner and they walked out, closing the metal gate behind them.

Her risky behavior wasn’t accruing unspeakable consequences.  Being kidnapped was surely the most offensive assault against her, but she had the feeling the worst was over.  Soon, she would know the reason why this had happened and would figure out a way to get out, just like in every other situation.

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Excerpt 115

Ala awoke some time later to rough hands pulling her body up, exposing her midsection. Instinctually, she tried to bring her hands around her body to cover herself, but found that they were still bound tight. Someone else heaved her body up and she was carried off.

She had hoped to wake up to her real life.  Her ankles and wrists hung limp and were sore. She heard her back crack in several places as the, who she presumed to be men, held tight and then metal sliding on a track. The temperature dropped radically as they entered.

They threw her body to the ground, which felt like cold stone and she began to shiver.  A lump in her throat quivered as she tried to find the right words to ask why they were doing this to her and where she was. All that she could get out was a tiny squeal.  

A toe from a heavy shoe or boot came crashing against the arch of her foot. Pain spiraled up to her knee.

“Shut up bitch woman,” the voice she had heard earlier, said. She heard laughter, most likely from the other man.

She thought of junior high school, when she was not permitted to participate in a debate match because the length of her skirt was too short, according to the assistant principal.  She was called into his office, where he paced back and forth, lecturing her about how she representing the school and herself in her wardrobe choices.  Every time she tried to defend herself, he would pound on the desk.  He refused to let her say one word.  She eventually stood up, kicked the chair over and stormed out of the office.  

She wasn’t sure if the fear of her unpredictability was what kept him quiet, but there were no further consequences for her actions.  Now of course, she was unable to move and unable to stop vibrating with anger. She could not let this pig silence her.

“No!” She said in the loudest voice she could find. 

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