The Never List (contest theme Best Bad Choice, 2018 Spring Writing Contest)

2018 Spring Writing Contest. The Write Practice

If only she’d stuck to the list.

Lexie flinched as her blindfold was removed and the harsh light from the exposed globe swinging from a cord illuminated her captor and burned her light deprived eyes. The last of the afternoon sun streamed in through the window, casting long shadows of her tormentor as he stalked around the room.

Lexie suspected the swinging harsh globe was there to further intimidate her. It worked. As always her senses were overwhelmed. Just the sight of his striking but brutal face with its spiky 3 day growth and immaculate white teeth made her heart pound so hard its palpitation was visible in her birdcage chest. She recoiled as his smooth manicured hands gripped her face and removed the gag from her mouth, stretching her sore coarse lips; she cringed as he proceeded to cut the ties that had scoured deep gouges into her wrists. After being his captive for a week, she knew what was coming once he finished this ritual and her body shook involuntarily.

The now familiar scent of his aftershave overpowered her senses and like one of Pavlov’s dogs, it triggered a physical reaction in her battered body. Her breathing became laboured, the old asthmatic problem kicked in, and the underarms of her already dirty and malodorous blouse discoloured with a new flood of sweat. She willed herself to relax and get wet between the legs before he forced his erection into her. The bleeding still hadn’t stopped from yesterday’s rape and her bruised body hurt all over from his rough treatment when he thrust into her, flattening her slight frame against the hard surface of the floor or the wall, or over the desk by the window.

Lexie swallowed back her tears, not wanting to gratify him at that level. She had seen how her tears in the early days had made his eyes gleam with power, and thought instead about the list, the Never List. If only she’d stuck to it. But no, they’d broken their own rules together, she and Mazikeen, her Maze, her best friend for 14 years since they were three. They had giggled as they broke the rules on the list, one after the other in a single night of madness.

Never go anywhere without telling your parents. “Let’s sneak out,” Maze had suggested, her eyes alight with excitement as they ducked the servants at her ostentatious house and left through a service entrance.

Never get in a stranger’s car. “Let’s get in,” Lexie had ventured, looking at the sleek black Mercedes S-Class that had veered to a halt on the footpath in front of them, a well dressed man beckoning to them from the front seat. Lexie had not wanted to seem dull in this new brave Maze’s eyes.

Maze had nodded her approval at Lexie’s enthusiasm, her perfect white toothed smile demonstrating more than her parent’s new money.

Never trust strange men. “He is wearing a suit, I’m sure we can trust him,” said Lexie, her blue blood background coloring her vision.

If only indeed. She knew the rules, they both did, they had devised them together when they were only 10, but she had defied them all, with only a little encouragement from Mazikeen. And now she was here, a tormented prisoner and plaything of the suited Mercedes man. As was Mazikeen, in a room somewhere in this rat maze of a warehouse. Both of them at the pleasure of him and his weird sex-crazed friends. After he’d had his gratification there would be another two of his suited friends to satisfy. And then they would give her some food, she hoped.

She had stopped worrying about their cleanliness and whether she would catch a nasty disease; her concern now was just to stay alive. She wondered what Mazikeen might be thinking. Plotting their agonized deaths at the hands of her violent and powerful father, Lexie imagined. Maze would be expecting her father and brothers to rescue her from this nightmare.

Lexie bit her lip as Mercedes man forced himself into her, not wanting to succumb to the tears, concentrating hard on the Never List. She jumped involuntarily as a terrified scream pierced the air. Maze. Oh god, thought Lexie, that didn’t sound normal. Whatever normal was anymore.

It wasn’t normal. Maze’s screams usually were dramatized but controlled, this one was too real, and spoke of real pain, real fear, real death.

One of the gruesome friends appeared and spoke briefly to Mercedes man. There was a short heated argument during which Lexie’s fears for Maze were confirmed.

Lexie’s tormentor returned to his frenzied thrusting. He shuddered into her as he climaxed.

“Only you now, sweetie pie. You’re going to be popular tonight,” his cruel laugh echoed as he left the room. She heard the key turn in the door with finality locking her into the dusty prison that had become her home, before his footsteps headed away finally fading.

In Lexie’s mind the door locked on more than her terror. Reality began to lose perspective. She saw herself as a character in an on-going nightmare. Disembodied.

Lexie’s stomach groaned, and she returned to reality. She could hear Mercedes man and his friends in another part of the warehouse, discussing what to do with Maze’s body. She dry retched, the bile making her throat burn.

In a moment of clarity Lexie saw an escape route. Freedom instead of captivity, life instead of death, freewill instead of pain. She prized open the window with her fingers, breaking several nails down to the quick, straining not to make any noise. Squeezing through at an awkward angle she managed to drop almost silently onto the veranda roof.

Silently praying she crawled along the roof till she reached the end of the veranda. All those years of gymnastics have finally paid off, she thought wryly as she somersaulted off the roof and landed lightly on the ground. Adrenaline having kicked in she was energised and possessed by a chance to survive.

Barefoot, she still cringed as she crossed the still hot cement, the soles of her feet burning making her run faster. She had just reached the rusted wrought iron gates when she heard the shout. They knew – they would be onto her in seconds, it was now or never. She climbed nimbly up the wrought iron gate and threw herself over the razor wire at the top, slicing her arms and legs as she rolled over it. She hit the ground hard, the dirt adhering to her bloodied limbs.

She heard them shouting, closer so that she could even make out individual voices. She heard his, Mercedes man. Her internal horror swelled, even at a distance she can taste him, she can feel his breath on her. A roar of a car and they are at the gate. She ran away from the compound and towards an oncoming truck, waving it down, while a marching band kept its own beat in her chest.

The driver was on his phone and didn’t see Lexie. She threw herself in front of the truck, fearing death less than being recaptured by her torturers. The driver saw her peripherally and swerved, throwing her in the air instead of running her down. He stopped and jumped from the cab, vomiting violently into a bush before he called an ambulance.

Lexie looked at him through blurred eyes, whatever happened to her now he had saved her. Blood flowed down from the wound on her head into her blue eyes, making them appear violet. She smiled at the driver before passing out.

The ambulance arrived siren wailing and Lexie was bundled onto a gurney, the lights illuminating her fragility, to a backdrop of the Mercedes slinking past, a black shadow on her horizon. Somewhere along the route to the main hospital she regained consciousness. Less than an hour later after being admitted and after hurried CT and MRI scans, the Head of Neurosurgery held her hand and spoke gently to her in a calm matter of fact way.

“You have a Subarachnoid Haemorrhage, a bleed in your brain. You are lucky to have made it to hospital, 15% die on the way in. If I perform the surgery you may not regain consciousness, about 30% don’t. If you do have surgery, you may have severe cognitive or physical deficits, about 30% have this. 50% die anyway. If you don’t have the surgery you will die. I need your consent.”

The surgeon’s words with the mixed messages and confusing statistics twisted and contorted in her brain demanding she choose. She had the mother of all headaches. She nodded, resigned.

The surgeon smiled and squeezed her hand almost imperceptibly. The orderly began to shave her head.

“Are you religious? You might want to pray.”

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