Today sees the end of the first full week of this April’s blogging challenge. Writing six stories in six days has been quite difficult, but so far I have found it to be very rewarding. Let’s hope I can keep up the pace and the optimism!
Today’s word comes from the wonderful Kate again, and the word is
“HESSIAN”. I had to look this one up, because I initially convinced myself that it was something to do with an unpleasant old crone. I was quite wrong about that!
Anyway, here’s what I was able to come up with. It’s slightly darker than the previous two stories, just as a heads-up.
(P.S. The word I was confusing “hessian” with was “harridan”, in case you’re interested!”
By Adam Dixon
My breathing comes out in harsh gasps as I struggle to remain calm. My hands and ankles are tied securely and my left side is numb. It’s so hot in the boot that my damp hair sticks to my head and it hurts to breathe; the digital thermometer on the dashboard had read thirty-two degrees outside when I had seen it last. That had been in the morning, long before the hottest point of the day. I am hyperventilating, my is body stiff with fear and my jeans are soaked with piss. The car rocks me to and fro as it cruises along to God-knows-where. I’ve long since given up crying out as the stereo system in the back drowns out any attempts I make with embarrassing ease. I am cursing it with all my might and regretting the day I installed it. All I can do is wait.
After what seems like hours, the car stops. I lay still, praying that a policeman has halted the car, or that the road I’m being driven down is impassable, or even that the driver has had a fucking heart attack at the wheel! I’m so desperate for something to happen that I can’t help but yelp with fright when the boot is yanked open. Sunlight greets me like a slap in the face, its rays barely filtered by the thick hessian sack covering my head. Gruff laughter from those outside rubs salt in my wounds as six strong, rough hands seize me and drag me out. I land heavily on the ground, jarring my numb hip. The ground is strewn with coarse, hot sand and the air seems clearer than back in the city. All I can smell is mouldy coffee; the sack must have been used to transport beans at some point before it was repurposed. I am forced onto my knees with my head hanging low. I am blubbering, begging these strangers not to hurt me. I am pleading with them, offering money I don’t have and promising to change whatever aspect of my life so offends them. No words are spoken, but I hear muted conversation and the cocking of a gun…
I sat bolt-upright in my bed, sweat covering my face and torso. I slowly took stock of my surroundings, panting and listening to my heart pounding in my chest. She stirred beside me and when I finally looked around she was watching me with concern.
“Did you have that dream again, babe?” she asked, her dark eyes glittering like orbs in the night.
“Yeah…” I answer. There’s nothing else to say, we’ve already said it before. The same nightmare has come once or twice every week since that afternoon five years ago. That was the day that I realised just how dangerous being a political journalist in the heart of the capital could be. That was the day I realised that I would never be safe, no matter what my employers promised. That was the day I stopped being a journalist.
I groaned as I got out of bed and stood up. The pain in my left shoulder was always worse after the nightmare, almost as if I were actually reliving the experience. In a way, I was, because the dream replayed the entire ordeal back to me in crystal-clear detail. But I always woke up before the bullet hit me these times. Thank God for small favours, eh? Christ…
I staggered out of our bedroom and into the bathroom. I didn’t turn on the light because I knew where my pills were kept. I also couldn’t bear to see the angry scar on my shoulder after the nightmare anymore. I seized the medicine bottle and shook out two of my pills. After a brief moment of doubt I shook out two more. What the hell, right? Tilting my head back I swallowed them dry, feeling them scratch my throat on the way down, threatening to catch and make me gag. I managed to coax them down my oesophagus as I stood staring at my reflection in the mirror. It was too dark to see anything, but I knew how haggard I was looking those days. Bags under the eyes, wrinkles appearing weekly and even locks of grey hair spreading across my head like a fucking forest fire. The hair which wasn’t falling out, anyway. Those men had messed me up big-time.
I wandered back into the bedroom and saw that she was still watching me. We stared at each other in a silence which was borne of desperation: her desperate need to know what I was thinking and my desperate need to forget what I had seen. She broke eye contact first, she always did. I don’t know why that always made me feel good, but it fucking did. She wouldn’t understand, anyway, so there was no point in trying to explain. I grabbed the half-empty bottle of whiskey from the bed-side table and poured out a glass, perching on the edge of the bed. She laid back down and turned away from me. That was fine; no sense both of us losing sleep. So I sat on my bed and swallowed my first slug of that particular morning. I held the glass to my nose and inhaled deeply for several seconds before every subsequent mouthful. I needed to get the stench of mouldy coffee out of my nostrils somehow, didn’t I?