Prologue – This story is one I wrote maybe five years ago. I used it as an assignment for a creative writing class and used it on a blog before that I no longer use. I’m posting it so that you (and I) can see my progress. Not only in my fiction but in my writing overall. Be a kind critic because I have already grown so much.
Waking up to the sun shining warmly on your face is quite relaxing. Waking up on an abandoned jungle gym in the middle of Nebraska, yeah not so much. Finally opening my eyes I glance over and see another, much smaller pair, staring right back at me. The sight jolting me awake I realize they belong to a small young girl. The cornflower blue of her dress was the same shade as her eyes. And what’s this? She’s wearing a petticoat? There are probably bloomers or whatever they’re called under there as well. What a peculiar little sight.
“Ma’am, ma’am are you alright up there?” The tiny voice matched the image I had of her in my head.
“Yeah, I am, I’d just like some privacy,” The gruffness of my own voice startled me. Maybe I should lay off handout cigs. Fuck it.
“Ma’am, would you like to come home with me? You may use our powder room. My mother won’t mind.” Instead of skittering away at my retort she was actually coming closer. What a pretty little nuisance. Although the thought of a hot shower does sound nice, and I always can see a good scam coming from a mile away.
“Are you sure she wouldn’t mind? Many mommies don’t like it when little girls bring a bum home.” She stiffened a bit at my condescending comment but still had that china doll smile painted on her face.
“No, my mother would be fine. She says that helping people that are down trodden is next to godliness.”
“Funny, I thought the phrase was cleanliness is next to godliness.” She seemed unperturbed by my comment as she beckoned me to follow her. Why the hell not?
“How far a walk is it?” Yeah I’ve walked all over this country, but sometimes I just want to sit down. Probably why I’m in my little, ya know, predicament. I am not ashamed to be a self inflicted vagrant, even though I should be. Life just comes and goes as it pleases, and so do I.
“It’s not far ma’am.” Her walk becomes more brisk and I wonder how she got so far so early in the morning.
“You can stop calling me ma’am, my name is Jennifer. I’m not as proper as you seem to be young lady. What do I call you?” She takes a hard left and I’m scrabbling to catch up and sound like an adult at the same time.
“My name is Charlotte Anne and my home is right on top of this hill.” The no outlet sign catches my eye at the beginning of the street. Must be a big house.
And I’m right about that. The great lilac Victorian that stands on top of the hill looks more like something out of a movie than a home that would reside in some small town. But heck, what do I know? The porch that wrapped around the house seemed to be hugging it like a protective shield. This was one that I dreamed of as a child. Almost right down to the intricate molding around the trim of the house. Those had been some pretty vivid dreams that I used to have.
“Is it just you and your mother that live here Charlotte?” Such a big house. I hope dollar signs aren’t showin’ in my eyes. But don’t think I’m a terrible person. I don’t steal for fun, just for necessity.
“It’s Charlotte Anne, ma’am and yes the gardener and the cook have their own homes at the bottom of the hill.” Without letting my jaw drop, I managed to stifle a gasp. There is a gardener AND a cook? Who are these people? Explains the little girls dress. Maybe mommy is stuck in her own sort of dreamland. If I had that sort of money, I may be stuck in my own as well.
Charlotte uncharacteristically stomps up the stairs that lead to the door. A very tall woman opens the door with no hesitation, almost like she was waiting. Her clothing was as peculiar as her daughters. A corset that was so tight I was wondering how she could even breath. A bustle under her skirt to make it seem fuller, if that’s the way she wanted to dress, who was I to judge?
“What did I tell you about stomping Charlotte Anne!? It is very un-ladylike for a girl to do so. How can such a little thing sound like a herd of elephants? Hello there, how do you do? My name is Fiona Grace, and yours?” What was with all the middle names? Do “proper” women go around calling each other by their full names all day?
“My name is Jennifer, your little girl told me it was all right to use your bath room? If it’s not okay, I can always go to the gas station I saw by the interstate. They usually have good smelling soap.”
“You will do no such thing, we have a powder room in which you may take your time in. If you would like the cook will wash your clothes as well, she’s multi-talented.” Fiona Grace smirks at her own private joke. “Then you can join us for lunch if you would like. We don’t see many drifters and I encourage my daughter to help others in as many ways as she can.”
All this was so odd to me. The woman, the daughter, the house, the time period in which they all seemed to be stuck in. But free food was free and so was a hot shower. I wonder how long their water heater will last.
Stripping off different sets of clothes I was wearing seemed rather foreign. My guard had suddenly dropped and it was alarming and different. But wrapped in the arms of a hot shower helped to put out that fire. Who knew that people could be so nice? Could be so welcoming? I almost felt bad that I was going to try to rip them off. Almost. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
Fiona Grace had provided me with a robe to wear until after my clothes were done drying. The softness was something I hadn’t felt in a long time. With several layers of clothes that see more wear and tear than normal, your stop feeling the fabric and instead feel the weight.
The lunch the unnamed cook had prepared was amazing. My lack of manners is apparent but it doesn’t seem to bother Fiona. They’re just sitting back watching me eat. Strange, but it seems like all this food was meant just for me. Strange, but very thoughtful.
“Jennifer, you look a bit peaked, would you like to take a rest? We have plenty of guest rooms to choose from.”
This offer was even more tempting than the hot shower. “I don’t want to impose ma’am, You’ve already been so kind.”
“While you’re a guest in my home, you are not imposing.” Fiona looked offended that I even rebuked the offer. “I insist, come I’ll show you to your room.”
What a room! It’s almost as big as the dining room, but the coziness of it is almost overwhelming. The plush carpet underneath my feet, the mountain of pillows that were at the head of the bed, even the billowy curtains that covered the windows.
“You’re right Fiona Grace, I am feeling quite tired, probably from that wonderful meal. I promise I’ll rest and then be out of your hair in no time.”
As she shut the door I was already falling into a sound but dreamless sleep.
Waking up in a pitch black room was startling, could I really have slept that long? No. No, no, no, no, no! I’m no longer in that extravagant bedroom, it almost feels as if I’m tied to a table or board of some sort. I can feel the softness of the leather straps tighten as I start to panic. My hands strapped to the board above my head have already fallen asleep.
Then a blinding light from a single light bulb above me flicks on. Standing over me is Fiona and Charlotte, dressed head to toe in black leather.
“Why? Why are you doing this to me?” Too frantic to scream this comes out more as a yelp. Being tilted forward, Fiona is now standing face to face with me, so close that I feel her breath on my face. Behind her, in my hazy state, I can make out a bench covered in instruments that my brain can’t recognize. Then I realize what’s above me. The blade seems larger than it should in her perfectly manicured hand.
“I don’t like to see trash on the street, especially in my neighborhood. The kind of people like you, jobless, begging. People who want everything for nothing. The ones that take peoples kindness for weakness so they can rob them or even worse, kill them.”
“What are you going to do to me?” Before she could answer Charlotte sunk a
smaller blade she was holding into my side. The pain is excruciating, but seeing my blood gush all over Charlotte with that eerie smile of hers, makes it even worse.
Blackness started sweeping over me, but sweeping doesn’t sound like the right word. More like bubbled, big black spots that cloud my vision. Splotches where Charlotte and Fiona’s faces should be. But they didn’t want that. No of course why would they want me to pass out? Where’s the fun in that. Fuckers.
But before the darkness could sweep me away completely, I felt my body move. I couldn’t tell if they were touching me, but they seemed too far away from me to be able to. I was being tilted backwards on the board I was strapped to.
“You know, our ancestors believed that a victim was more liable to stay conscious during torture if all the blood had rushed to their head” Fiona said in a crisp matter of fact manner. “I’m not sure If they were right, but I suppose we are about to find out soon.”
Not sure if it was from the pain of being stabbed or being tilted head first but I couldn’t hold it in. I turned my head in the direction of sweet little Charlotte and lost my stomach. Her squeal of disgust pleased me but the dour taste of vomit in my mouth kept me from smiling.
“Did you just squeal Charlotte?” Fiona snapped. The smack of her hand against Charlottes face started ringing in my ears. “Now take these and put them on her. I assume you know how to do that?”
Not being able to see what Charlotte was handed bothered me, but by this point I was ready to die. Actually the moment I woke up strapped to a board, I was ready to die. What really do I have to live for?
But now little Charlotte was face to face with me and I could see some sort of medieval device laying in her hands. She grinned at me. So of course rational me did what else? I hawked a huge spit ball right at her perfect face. Fiona threw her a towel from no where. “Get back to what you were doing, this time instead of easing her into it, go all the way.” Fiona almost giggle. She almost fucking giggled. Bitch.
“I wish this would kill you but no, it will only be extremely painful. What a shame.” Charlotte whispered in my ear. Since my hands are above my head I couldn’t see what she’s doing so I just close my eyes and wait for what will come next.
My fingers, wait just my thumb, feels like it’s being placed between two pieces of metal. I could feel ridges on the metal that started eating into my flesh. I couldn’t hear anything, but I could feel the metal become tighter and tighter.
The ridges became like teeth, newborn teeth that were chewing on my thumb. But then the tightness was becoming too much. The overwhelming urge to throw up hit me again. Then a mind numbing crack resounds through my body. Just the sound sent me spiraling into dry heaves.
With my right thumb broken, and Charlotte beginning on my left, my thoughts were extremely muddied. I could barely feel my right hand, it felt like an empty sack, a weight of nothing hanging off my arm. The left broke much faster. Charlotte was getting good at this.
This time the dry heaves didn’t come. The sweat that had accumulated on me had chilled. I was feeling less and less of my body. We hadn’t even been here long, but I knew that there were more objects on that table.
As I was being tilted forward again, I could almost feel the blood spread back through the rest of my body. I came face to face with Fiona, yet the image of her was blurred, like a drunk I could see three of her. “Are you going to kill me?” It was the only thing that I could think of to say, yet I knew how stupid it sounded.
“Of course we’re going to kill you, besides you know what they say.” The too white smile she had was obnoxious in all the right ways. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”