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08 August 2017 @ 02:59 pm
LJ Idol Season Ten: "Bound"  
idol season ten | week 27 | 1330 words
Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you


It is dark, so dark, here in this forever of cold and despair. I have been here longer than I can remember.

I fear it is too late to hope I will ever leave.

There was light here, once, but that was no kindness. In time, it showed all too many things I dreaded seeing. Sometimes, it showed the man—who was often there or soon would be, the man who brought me here, who lured me away from the park with the promise of newborn puppies. The man was terrifying when he was angry, but worse when he was quiet. He looked at you then with eyes so cold and cruel, you felt the terror of it to the core of your very bones.

Sometimes, it showed the blood spattering the walls or seeping into the dirt of the basement floor. My own blood, some of it. Seeing it set off terrible memories of each time the man chose to spill it.

And then there were the other children…

Lonely was the Hell I lived in, but it was worse when other children were there—many who were younger and weaker than I. For all the pain inflicted on my body, there were times it grew so fierce I did not feel it. But when those children screamed and cried, I could not steel my heart against their torment, and I could not save them. Poor little Annie, with her broken dolly. All she'd wanted was to go home, and I did not tell her that she never would. Little Susie used to whisper stories to herself when she was scared, but before long she stopped speaking altogether. She would be awake and breathing, but no hint of her remained inside her eyes. She was never the same again.

The man became very angry when that happened. He turned his attentions to me then, breaking my fingers and carving letters into my flesh. "Ruby," the letters spelled, and "Jessamin."

I wondered who those girls were that he hated so much.

Back when there still light inside that basement, I could see all the horrible things he had done to me. Much as I loathed the dark, those bruises and raw patches of missing flesh were too sickening to behold. I had forgotten what I once looked like and could no longer bear to see what I had become.

I often wondered whether fear itself might kill me, like a poison. Day and night I lay there, strapped to that filthy bed and worrying about what the man would do to me next and whether I would survive it. Even when he was absent, I always knew he would return. I agonized over every creak and scuffle, certain he was on his way back to destroy me all over again.

I do not know why the dark has become so relentless now, nor the cold so unforgiving. Time seems endless in this prison, broken only by pain or terror or the revolting sense of creatures crawling on me when I can do nothing to stop them.

I hear the voices of children from time-to-time. Will they be captured too? I scream at them to stay away from this horrible basement, that the man who lives here is not to be trusted, and I am so relieved when they seem to have listened. I hear the voices of unknown men as well. They are neither my tormentor nor my own dear father, and I so hoped Father might someday find me…

In this musty blackness of things unseen, I am almost too frightened to breathe as I wait for the ritual of pain to begin again. But sometimes even the most terrible of things is still easier to withstand than the excruciation of wondering when it will happen.

Now I notice the sound of a woman's voice, in soft, low tones I have not heard for years upon years. "I am here!" I shout. She is not my mother and would not know me, but I have wished it for so long! "Rescue me from this madman, please, I beg of you!"

I think maybe the woman hears me. Doesn't she? She is no longer speaking, but "Please help, oh please don't leave without me!"

And yet, the heartbreaking silence returns.

Hours or days go by, there in the darkness with nothing but nightmares and panic and the memories I wish I could forget. I will be alone forever, I think, except for those awful times when that terrible man returns. I would sleep until the end of time itself, if only I could.

I hear voices again one day. Not just one or two people, but a group of them. "Let me out!" I scream. I don't care what the man does to me, it's worth risking for freedom. The people ignore me, although I can feel them poking around nearby. "I'm right here!" I say.

There is a frozen silence, but then they continue on with no reply. I cry and plead myself to exhaustion, but they are focused on the task at hand.

I wake sometime later to find people digging in the basement. They've added lights to the room, so I can see the curious work they are doing. They do not look at me, all of them too polite to stare at my wounds, my filthy clothes. After so many years of cruelty, the shock of such simple kindness nearly brings me to tears.

None of the people respond to my greetings and pleasantries, but I can see they are busy and may be trying to spare me embarrassment. I simply watch instead, trying not to disturb them. Hours go by, and then they finally move back enough to let me see their progress.

Oh… oh, dear. They have unearthed a pitiful little pile of bones, some poor creature who was buried in this unholy tomb. Not Annie, I think, oh please, not Annie. I never saw what happened to her, only that she left us. I never dared to ask.

That—wait. That dress is just like my dress, the one I was wearing at the park that day. But it's ruined now, half-rotten with blood and age, and I don't understand—

Oh, no. A wave of sorrow passes through me, as I curl up into something impossibly small and sad. How could this have happened?

I suddenly just want to disappear to where I can't feel anything anymore. Sleep, I think, willing myself to go wherever it is I escape from truths I cannot face…

Later—days, or maybe more—I am pulled back to that horrible basement. Why can I not be left in peace? Let me forget all that happened there, and let it forget me. It can be some other person's tragic history, anyone but me.

Still, I am drawn there by force.

The workers are going up the stairs with a stretcher, a collection of bones and a tattered dress lying upon it.

It is too horrible to think about, but I cannot pretend not to know the truth. Those wretched bones are me.

The procession moves out of the stairwell and across the kitchen, heading outside. That's when—wait, what's happening, something's changing. Something big.

I feel heat tingling through me, like the glow of fireflies in the night. I have been so cold for so long, I'd forgotten how sweet it is to be warm. Everything becomes bright—almost glaring—as the workers move out into the sun.

It is all so beautiful, the light as white as a midsummer's day and all the more blinding for how long I've been lost to the dark. I feel it overtake me, and I gasp as if I'm drowning in it.

Then the basement—and the very world itself—drift loose until they are finally as far away as if I were standing on the surface of the sun…


You can vote for this story along with any of the other fine entries here. Only 8 this week, so your participation helps!

Murielle: Scrunchedmurielle on August 9th, 2017 02:19 am (UTC)
Wow. Wow. I don't know what to write. You take the reader (me) to the most horrible, unimaginably terrible scenario ever and walk (me) us through the most awful conclusion and then to the light. Brava! Brava!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 9th, 2017 06:22 am (UTC)
Thank you! The prompt guided both the highs and lows of this story, and it called for something hopeful at the end.

It sounds as if it hit all of those points, which pleases me greatly! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :)
i_17bingo: toileti_17bingo on August 9th, 2017 12:45 pm (UTC)
That was horrible. Well-written, vivid, evocative, and all kinds of horrible. I am definitely voting for you.

Really, though, death is probably the best thing that could have happened to this girl.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 10th, 2017 07:39 am (UTC)
Thank you very much-- I'm glad you felt it was a quality story, even though the subject itself is heartbreaking.

After all she had been through, death was better than continuing to live through what was happening to her. And finally being liberated from haunting that basement where she kept reliving all she'd suffered... a hint of mercy at last for someone who had been so long denied it.
adoptedwriteradoptedwriter on August 9th, 2017 01:33 pm (UTC)
chilling, horrifying but so well-written! Bravo! Reminds me a little of THE LOVELY BONES.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 10th, 2017 06:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

This poor girl never had anything as nice as the Limbo in The Lovely Bones, unfortunately! She was alive for quite a bit, and didn't notice when she transitioned into being a ghost.

Her ending, though, was finally as good as it could be, after all she'd been through.

Thanks for your continued reading and commenting of the entries this late in the season!
messygorgeousmessygorgeous on August 9th, 2017 03:03 pm (UTC)

That poor baby. I really believed she had been allowed to grow older as the kidnapper killed other children...I was so surprised to discover she was dead! And feared for her when she was drawn back to the basement. What an unfair way to spend eternity! But, thank God her soul finally found freedom!

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 10th, 2017 06:42 pm (UTC)
She did grow older for awhile, but did not notice when she died. That perpetual darkness was partly because she could only "see" in memories after she had crossed over.

After all she'd been through, she was still trapped in a cycle of pain and terror, and didn't even notice that she wasn't physically able to be hurt anymore. Some people feel this is one of the things that leads to haunting-- reliving a horror you couldn't escape. It did lead her to ultimately being found, though, and finally freed.

Thank goodness the prompt leaned toward a happy ending-- I needed that myself!
bleodsweanbleodswean on August 9th, 2017 03:03 pm (UTC)
Oh! So sad and evocatively so! I had no idea you were going in a The Lovely Bones direction and that was a nice surprised. I loved the poetic ending!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 12th, 2017 01:06 am (UTC)
I didn't think I'd told a good ghost story in awhile, and this girl was still living for quite a while before becoming a ghost. But she has good reasons for haunting that basement, and they sadly also keep her there until she is finally free.

So glad you liked this one!
penpusher: Two Centspenpusher on August 9th, 2017 05:13 pm (UTC)
So heartbreaking and so heart felt. How could anyone not sense or feel the pain of all of those little lives, and even though it's fiction, we know all too many true tales of this sort (and I'm sure there are even more we have never heard). That's what makes this story especially crushing.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 12th, 2017 01:09 am (UTC)
I hate to think of those poor people who have been through this, and there was a story this past week about John Wayne Gacy that put me in mind of this, though his victims were older.

That story haunted me when I was younger (about 12 or 13 when the news of it broke, I think), and the idea of preying on anyone-- but especially children-- is so desperately sad.

cindy: misc fictsuki_no_bara on August 10th, 2017 02:36 am (UTC)
i figured she was a ghost before she realized it, but i couldn't guess how the story ended. it has a happy ending! which is actually a relief, because it's such a grim story right up until it ends. really well-done, very disturbing, but so grim.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2017 12:01 am (UTC)
That's good-- it means that the hints were able to be deciphered by the reader, but not so obvious that the character should have realized it long before.

The prompt called out for something dark, but also ideally something that ended on a better note, and thank goodness for that!
rayasorayaso on August 10th, 2017 08:03 pm (UTC)
Oh. My. God! This was stunning. It was so deeply and disturbingly evil. While you have written dark tales before, I don't think any have gone so far into such sickening areas -- but in a good way! And yes, that is possible, and is part of what makes this story so truly outstanding. I didn't think there was a way to bring any hope or light into this, but you did. I loved your ending. The fact that girl is doomed to haunt this hell, potentially forever, and remember everything that happened there is such an awful doom, but in the end, you released her from this and brought her out into the sun. This was so, so, great!!!!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2017 12:05 am (UTC)
I think this might be the darkest thing I've every written, though not the only one. And there are far darker-- I like to imply some of what's happening without getting so explicit that people just can't read it (and I don't want to write it).

The prompt really helped bring about that ending, because it told me how I wanted to frame the story, and that the pain the ghost feels would eventually also cause her to be "seen" and freed. Reliving that awful experience for untold decades or longer would be so awful.
marlawentmadmarlawentmad on August 11th, 2017 02:00 pm (UTC)

You did superbly with this one. This is horrendous stuff, and it felt all the more immediate to me because I just listened to a true crime podcast which detailed the story of the man who kidnapped women, basement horror ensued. Those last few lines are so beautiful. Thank you for ending it on such a redeeming note.

The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2017 12:07 am (UTC)
I'm glad that ending was reassuring and fitting for you. It made such a difference, knowing what I was writing toward and that there would be relief in the end.
dmousey: owldmousey on August 11th, 2017 10:10 pm (UTC)
This is another horribly rough- exquisitely done piece from you. What a fate for all those girls. Hugs and peace~~~D
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2017 12:08 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the kind words! It was tough to write this one, but the ending sure helped.
the key of the day and the lock of the night: Locknkeylocknkey on August 12th, 2017 07:25 am (UTC)
This is so terrible and I was surprised when she discovered her own mortality and the end was uplifting. Beautiful job!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2017 12:09 am (UTC)
Thank you very much, and thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
flipflop_divaflipflop_diva on August 13th, 2017 04:28 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. This is so sad, but yet so well done. I had a feeling she was a ghost before she did, but the way you told her story and how she didn't even realize she had become a ghost was awful and heartbreaking. And the whole situation is just so chilling, especially because it does happy in the real world.

I'm glad she got a happy-ish ending of sorts, even if it was long after she had died.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on August 14th, 2017 12:14 am (UTC)
I'm glad you thought it was well done, especially given that it's such a sad subject and something that is unfortunately real at times. I had hoped the reader would not know she was a ghost right away, but would come to realize that before the character did. She was so caught in the reliving of that horror that it kept going after she died, and she had no way of knowing it was over.

Finally having her body removed from that basement broke the link to that cycle of haunting, and that is the only form of a happy ending she could have at that point. But seeing how it was for her before that, it is at least a happiER ending.

Thanks so much for reading and commenting.