I woke up with a start. There was that nightmare again – of me slowly losing consciousness and lapsing into an infinite sleep. I looked so old and sick in the dream. It had been recurring for many days now, but each time, its realism seemed to slink further into the black hole of time. Today, it had almost felt like a lifetime away. That was a good sign. ‘Maybe it will just go away altogether in a few days,’ I hoped. ‘If I manage to survive a few more days, that is.’
It was pitch dark. All was quiet except for the constant whispering din of my heart. The complete deathly stillness around might have been labeled calming under ordinary circumstances. Mine, decidedly, were not. For one, my cramped confines kept me completely straitjacketed in one position. My captor was not taking any chances at passing any creature comforts my way even unwittingly. I tried to move my body tepidly but that only caused the noose around my neck to tighten. The noose! I had totally forgotten about that. ‘Uh, oh,’ I thought, ‘this is not looking good, is it?’ I half-joked at my miserable position. I decided to lie perfectly still. Momentarily, I went back to sleep again. I felt so tired.
A sudden movement and a loud boom jolted me awake. ‘What was that?’ I wondered as I flickered my eyelids to get used to the endless darkness. Just as suddenly, I sensed an awful odor around me. ‘And what the fuck is that?’ my mind shrieked, petrified that my captor had decided to poison me to death. The ghastly odor ebbed, but soon there was more, much more. Was this really the end? I felt like crying but my eyes refused to well up any tears. It made me very somber when I realized that I had no ability to form tears anymore.
I had to harden myself. This was not how I wanted to go – naked, alone, trussed in nameless obscurity. I had survived so far despite the odds. ‘I need to hold out for just a bit longer…’ My brain tried to compose steely resolve but only succeeded in painting empty visions. As if my undetermined future was in my hands.
‘If I could just loosen the noose, I would die a happy man,’ I thought, trying to make the most of my wretchedness. I moved my head back, slowly enough to be completely unobtrusive to my captor. As I delicately cramped the rest of my body upwards, the cord around my neck fell loose and dropped harmlessly around my shoulders. Small victories. ‘Maybe I will live to see another day?’
I felt calm enough to think back to the time when my captivity had begun. ‘How many days has it been?’ I let my numb brain stress with the calculation. ‘Or has it been weeks? Months even?’ I realized that I had lost track of how much time had passed since the day I had first come to my senses in this dark tomb. But I did remember being so petrified of my new environment that I had tried to scream and fight as much as my body would allow. Well, you would have done the same, if you had discovered yourself hanging upside down, stripped of all modesty. The captor was vicious, clearly resorting to drugging me to quieten me down whenever my protestations got violent. Pretty soon though, I had realized that no one was listening to my cries. How could they, since I was being held under water, with only a narrow tube to provide me just enough sustenance to keep me alive?
I tried to think of the happy memories of my days before the ordeal. But my mind was blank – a clean slate, black with nothingness. The harder I tried to think, the darker it got. Slowly, I found my eyes feeling heavy. I prayed for the grim odor to bear fruit quickly.
I went back to sleep again.
‘Three more weeks,’ muttered the gassy woman lying sideways on the bed as she shifted her giant belly slightly. She had been trying to find that solitary comfortable position that had remained elusive since the start of the 36th week.