The pain in her wrists was excruciating, any slight movement shot a fresh wave of pain through them. Deep breathing was not working in her favour because with every heave of her chest, the sisal rope cut further into her wrist. She was tied down to the bed, spread-eagled, all her four limbs at the respective corners of each bed post. Her triceps were hyper-extended up and away from her ears straining her shoulders. Her back was arched uncomfortably. The only part of her body she could move freely was her head. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise because everything else was hurting. Her initial shock reaction had worn off and her pain receptors were now on hyperdrive.
She lifted her head as high as she could and looked down at herself. Tears stung her eyes and she couldn’t tell if this was from actual pain or from seeing the state of her body. This time, he had shown no mercy. She had cuts all over her body, tiny, little, angry red lines on her arms, across her belly, all over her thighs and down her shins. Her trickle of tears quickly turned to loud sobbing mixed with screaming. She wanted to die right now. This was the worst it had ever been.
She had finally come to. The disorientation on her face was a flicker that was quickly erased by the pain. He watched her through the hidden camera embedded in the wall that she never ever knew existed. He waited for the reaction that always filled him with excitement. He did not have to wait long. She was soon screaming!
She had lost track of time and was never really sure what time of day it was anymore. Maybe her body was going back into shock because it felt like the pain was floating away. Maybe it was she who was floating away. Her mind floated back to the beginning, to the day her living nightmare began. She saw herself saying goodbye to her parents and promising to call immediately she got to campus. She remembered getting into the taxi and placing her rucksack next to her as she closed the door. She remembered trying to roll down her tinted window to wave goodbye to her mother and the window not working. She remembered her mother’s voice, barely audible over the sound of the engine, babbling something about not forgetting to freeze the chapatis. Her tongue got wet at the memory of her mother’s chapatis. She missed her mother’s cooking. She missed her mother.
She remembered how she was anticipating going back to campus, as her first semester there had been wonderful. She had made friends easily and was soon a part of the popular crowd. When not in class, she had fun every single minute. Right now all that felt like such a distant memory.
She remembered giving the taxi driver a cursory glance, voicing a quick hello and immediately getting on her phone, paying no attention to her surroundings.
Immediately she got into the taxi, he knew she was the ‘one’. It was like second nature to him, like a gift that he only knew he possessed when he met his fares. It did not happen often that he would pick up someone who matched his needs. The ones he picked had a certain aura around them that he felt very connected to. Something about her felt different from the others. She paid him no attention from the moment she sat down in the back of his taxi. That did not bother him at all; most fares he picked up paid him no mind. At least she said hello, even if it was an obligatory one.
Almost immediately her attention went straight to her phone. He hated those damn things. They really took away from human interaction. He missed the days he would pick people up and most would try to make small talk. Some would spill out their lives the entire ride, others would share tidbits cautiously, afraid to give out too much information. Others would only respond to his questions and not volunteer any more information. The worst kind were the ones who felt that he was beneath them and so did not bother to engage. They would sit there in stony silence and ignore his every attempt to talk about the weather, or traffic or the ever rising corruption scandals the country was facing.
He adjusted his rear view mirror so he could get a better look at her. She didn’t look older than 20. Maybe 22 but definitely not more than that. The taxi app had indicated she was heading to a local university, meaning she was a student and given the rucksack she was carrying, she was a boarder. He wondered how long it would take before her parents realised she was missing. A week? Two weeks? The same day? From past experience, it usually took 48 hours before friends and family panicked and started to consider that maybe their loved ones were missing. He knew this because he never switched their phones off at first. He saw the calls and texts and DM’s. Only when the family put up an official notice did he discard the sim card and destroy the phone before dumping it. These stupid things had built in GPRS and could be traced, making his work just a tad harder.
It was when she lifted her head for a brief second that she noticed they were driving along an unfamiliar road. On some level she knew they were still in town but she could not see any familiar landmarks. They had been driving for a while and she figured they would be close to her campus by now. Maybe the driver had decided to take a short cut. Better safe than sorry, she thought, as she asked him where they were. He ignored her question. Okay maybe he did not ignore, maybe he did not hear her. She asked again how much longer before they arrived and if this was an alternative route. Still, no reaction from him.
She was sure this last time he must have heard her and was now being rude. She removed her seatbelt, leaned forward and tapped his left shoulder. Not even a backward glance.
The driver suddenly hit emergency brakes, shifting her body forward between the driver and passenger seat and back again in quick succession. The hell was this guy doing!! She adjusted herself back on the seat and was about to start cursing him out when she was struck hard, on the face. She can’t explain how he did it but somehow while still driving he was able to hit her on the face with his hand.
Terror set in at that moment. At this point the driver had increased his speed. She turned to face the car door and tried to roll down the window; maybe she could get someone’s attention. The lever was not moving. She could not open the window! She tried to wave frantically at the cars and pedestrians passing along till she remembered the car had dark tinted windows. She had noticed that when she boarded earlier. She tried unlocking the door, an exercise in futility as she realised none of those gadgets worked. She scuttled across to the other side of the car in the hope that maybe that side of the car, either the window or door would give way. Nothing!
Where was her phone? She could call her mum and maybe share her location. She searched for it on the back seat. It wasn’t there. She looked at the floor of the car. Nothing. Then she saw him lift it in the air with his left hand. It must have fallen from her hands when he hit the emergency brakes earlier. She tried to grab it and he pushed her back, fast and hard. She fell back again on the seat.
Everything after that happened in quick succession. She remembered asking him to stop the cab. Practically begging then threatening then screaming at him. The guy was unmoved. Her noise must have irritated him because he reached into the dashboard and retrieved a tiny spray bottle, all the while, driving with one hand. He sprayed a few puffs towards her in the back and continued driving. Whatever he sprayed had that scent! The scent that was going to play a big role in her life over the next unforeseen period. Only she did not know it at the moment.
Things got very hazy after that. She felt like she couldn’t breathe; maybe she was having a panic attack and it was limiting her ability to breathe. But why did she feel lethargic all of a sudden? And suddenly oh-so-sleepy? Fuck! This guy must have drugged her! And then she closed her eyes and slipped into a very deep sleep.
He got tired of watching her. She was done screaming and was looking sleepy. She was so still that from this angle she looked dead, especially the way her body was marked with cuts all over. He admired his handiwork for a little bit longer till he realised his hunger was greater than the need to watch her. He wanted to find some food, maybe take a shower and watch some TV. He debated on whether to let her watch some TV today. No! She had been naughty, and naughty girls don’t get nice things. Let her stew in her own thoughts for a bit and think over what it meant to say no to him. He walked away from the laptop screen he was viewing from and went into the main house. He kept her locked in the servants quarter and given the torture she just went through, she probably would be asleep for a while either from pain, exhaustion or the medication he had drugged her with earlier. Either way, she was going to be silent for a while.
The first time she woke up in this bed was the worst day of her life. Or so she thought. There had been so many worse days after that she did not care to label them anymore. She had fought, resisted, begged and even tried to negotiate with this psychopath. Nothing worked. He never spoke a single word to her, ever! In all the time she had been abducted she had never heard his voice. The only thing that was a constant was that sticky, semi-sweet scent that seemed to hang around him. That scent evoked two strong opposing emotions for her. Fear and comfort, depending on the situation. Right now, she could smell it so strongly even as the pain in her wrists increased. She looked up again at her wrists that were now caked with dry blood. The sisal rope had really cut into the thin skin around them and whatever friction she was causing from moving around felt like being sliced with a really sharp knife. She had cuts coming down her arm, the cuts he had made with an actual sharp knife, all the way down her body. The scars from previous cuttings looked either bluish grey or black depending on how far back he had made them. It made for a ghastly water color effect when viewed as a whole. Tears welled up in her eyes again. Now she really was ready to die. She closed her eyes and felt the hot tears roll down the side of her face and into her ears.This time as she slipped under, she hoped to never wake up.