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You do not know pain until you’ve been here. Gloomy as a black hole, humid as a southern summer daybreak, and an impenetrable silence guaranteed to drive you raving mad. You do not know anxiety until you’ve lived the past two weeks of my life. You don’t know insanity till you’ve craved the footsteps, despite the suffering that comes with them.
And you don’t know horror until the footsteps stop coming.
Fifteen days, I’ve been here. At least, that what I think. After the third day, I started counting seconds. Sounds kind of tedious, I know, but there aren’t really a lot of other activities to partake in, when you’re trapped in the still darkness.
If I make it out alive, at least I’ll have first-hand experience on what it’s like to be truly dehydrated. Starved…blind. All those fun adjectives. (And no, for the record; I don’t dream.) Maybe I can write about my knowledge and make it big…Nah. I suck at writing.
Generally, on the 56,700th second, I can hear the thumping sounds of boots on the stone in the seemingly endless hallway. Yesterday, they stopped coming. At first, I figured he was just late. Maybe he has a bunch of other prisoners stored around here somewhere. Thinking about it, I felt jealous. I’m special; no way would he have others he likes the way he likes me.
After 7,200 more seconds yesterday, I decided he wasn’t coming. And I was right. I’m nearly 9,000 seconds over the regular time today, and still I hear only silence. I’m beginning to worry.
What’s that saying I’ve heard before? The Rule of Three…3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. That’s how long you can survive. I’m already two days without any sustenance, and my throat feels like someone glued sandpaper to it. I try once again to conjure up some saliva, but only cringe at the unnaturally loud sound of my bone-dry tongue hitting my teeth.
Hey, maybe I can invent some new kind of musical instrument: the tongue drum. Requirements: no liquid ingestion for the past two days. Sounds pretty stylin’. I’m sure the hipsters would love it!
Okay, idiot, calm down. You’re going to die if you don’t drink anything within the next twenty-two hours, and it appears he’s left you behind.( Oh, please…he wouldn’t forget about me! He obviously likes me a little, or he wouldn’t have kept me alive so long…)
I’d kind of like to meet him, when I get out of here. IF I get out of here, that is. I guess if I’m ever freed, I’d be obligated to turn him in or something. Could I do that? I don’t know if I could. He might have killed me, but he didn’t. That has to count for something.
Alright, moving on: water. Now…what in this room could I drink? I instantly remind myself of a vampire, forever in the dark and forever thirsty. Something clicks in my mind: vampires drink blood, and…so can I?
I run my wrist over my check, feeling its innocent warmth, like a sleeping puppy. I imagine the liquid flowing underneath its soft shell, and imagine that liquid in my mouth. Oh, God…to have something to drink…
My teeth come down instinctively on my thin arm, and I bite hard, without mercy. The blood is warm and light on my parched tongue, but does nothing to soothe its suffering. S***. Maybe my health teacher was right when she said we couldn’t survive on our own salt-infested blood…
I’m desperate, though, and I let the scarlet liquid trickle down my throat. It’s like rust-flavored water, but nothing has ever tasted so damn good.
For 729 seconds, I endure the pain in my wrist and the aching in my stomach as I drink my own blood. I’m surprised he would let me go through this, but I’m sure he’ll be outraged when he finds out. Not at me, though; at himself. You don’t let the people you love drink their own blood!
My resistance is almost nonexistent when I decide it’s time to pull my arm out of my mouth. I don’t want to bleed to death; imagine the mess he’d have to clean up!
To stop the bleeding, I remove my short, pink sock and knot it around my arm. The small wad of fabric does little to halt the steady blood flow, and my sock is instantly stained a dark red. That’s gonna suck to wash. The bracelet-like style reminds me of one of those kids who cut themselves for fun, and hide it with an armband. I wish I only had to cut myself for entertainment. I laugh aloud at the bizarre envy I feel, and instantly swallow my bliss.
The ringing laughter is engulfed by the bitter silence, like the cries of a child quieted by a parent’s insensitive words. Yet, I can still hear the joyous remnants, even when all is hushed.
Then there is a distant BOOM!, like a cannon in the Revolutionary War, and a muffled voice that’s oddly alert. I sit up straight, and hold my breath to listen closer.
That’s when I hear the marvelous footsteps, rushed this time, like my laughter was an alarm clock that finally woke him up. I impulsively jump, my mile stunted as my head collides with the short stone ceiling. I hadn’t realized the room was so small before.
My door is being fumbled with, and I hear someone muttering under their breath. I run my hands through my filthy, stringy hair, though he can’t even see me in ruthless shadows.
The door flies open urgently, and I see him silhouetted against the blaring light I haven’t ever seen in the hallway before. An unnatural feeling of affection fills my soul, and I jump at him without thinking. But, the second I ram into the other body, I can tell it’s not him.
This body is soft and feminine, and smells like ginger and oranges. I recoil immediately, even though the stranger’s arms wrap around my skeleton thin body. “Ruby? We’ve finally found you!” The voice is filled with a kind of ecstasy I can’t remember ever feeling.
Ruby…that word sounds familiar. Ruby…Ruby…oh, yeah. That’s my name.