It was dark.
I could not hear my own heartbeat.
I could not hear the creature next to me.
Nothing existed except my own thoughts. I wondered if I was truly alone. I wondered if the creature was still with me. I was as still as a pool of water in a barren desert, yet I was clinging to my existence. Time was an eternal lake in which I floated upon.
That was an odd thought.
Where was this place?
I might be in the tunnel, maybe in a different chamber, farther down leading to Decker’s house.
Even as I thought it to be true, something inside me told me it wasn’t. There must be a way out. I remembered what the creature said in my voice, inside my head. Exit out into the dark. Maybe that was it. I needed to find a way out of this dark place. But first I’d need to muster the courage to find a way out of these restraints.
I drew in my breath and let it out slowly. When my finger touched the iron clasp, a new light, brighter than the previous one, appeared. It was to my right coming from an opened door. Where’d that come from? In the light, I could see a person’s silhouette in the doorway.
Was this a trick? Maybe the creature was doing this. If it could speak to me through my mind, it might be able to make me see things that aren’t even there.
Then a low, guttural voice began to speak.
I cringed at knowing what was to follow. What was to come.
Pain shot into my spine, then it inched up my back little by little from the center radiating outward. My feet and hands tingled along with my arms and legs. The tingling turned into needling, and it intensified. I felt my heart leap against my chest. I writhed in pain, arching my back, hoping for relief, but it didn’t come.
I wanted to scream, but I remembered I had to remain silent.
Wasn’t that what I was to do?
My muscles grew tight, causing my chest to contract, constricting my air and I tried to fight it, but it was no use. Quick, short breaths. The pain rushed through my body like hot steam through an engine. The pressure and heat increased, and when it was too much, I went blind. There was no time to react, to contemplate that my sight was gone.
The heat left my body, leaving it cold. The pain left my body, leaving it numb. I tried to search for a way out, thinking of where to go. Thinking of how to exit through this dark. The words from the creature came back to me—“Exit out to the dark, not the light.” There was no light, no option other than the dark and only the dark, so I let myself go, and into the dark, I went.
I felt calm, serene. I remained still just as the creature had told me to do. I waited and remembered I was not to speak.
Something grabbed me. It was not just a grab but rather like millions of tiny little hooks piercing my skin on every conceivable spot on my body. Next, the hooks pulled outward, holding on to my skin.
I dared not move, I dared not speak. The creature had said it would not be easy.
The hooks stretched my skin and pulled at each fiber. I could hear the skin tear, and it felt like thousands of tiny burns crawling over my flesh, and then I screamed.
In the dark I felt a blade slice my skin, then another, and my skin tore from my body. I screamed so loud my soul ached.
Hooks were digging deeper, ripping the skin from my muscles. A searing pain like nothing I had experienced erupted through my body as my skin came off my sides.
Next, a spike was driven through my right wrist, then another through my left wrist. Tears shot from my eyes. I screamed so violently I bit hard on my tongue. Blood filled my mouth.
Another slice in the dark, and another. I jerked, tensed my body, trying to find relief, but it never came. Instead, more of my skin was torn off, and I continued to scream.
A light appeared—pure white and bright. It stunned me for I thought I had gone blind.
I could see a doorway where the light came from.
My heart sank, and my will began to falter, falling away from me as easily as a scaffold that has lost its footing. I wanted to beg for mercy, I wanted to ask for forgiveness. I was ready to do anything if only I could be freed.
I was being skinned alive, suspended in air, a bloody ball of flesh. I was being ripped apart.
The creature said to stay in the dark, that the pain would not last, but I didn’t want the dark, I wanted the light.
But the path to the light would be even more painful. And as I thought about the light, it began to fade. I wanted to call out, but my mouth remained shut. The light grew dimmer, and tears ran down my skinless cheeks. This was my chance. I could go into the light, or I would be trapped in the dark forever.
Why was it so hard?
It was hard because of what I had to do to free myself. I had to finish ripping my body from hooks that had dug into me.
But the creature said to stay in the dark.
I had to lift my arms off the spikes that were driven into me.
But the creature said not to move.
I would lose more of myself getting out of there, but if I remained and allowed the light to go, there would be pain but less of it.
But that’s what the creature said.
The creature said to stay still, to not speak.
But the creature is full of shit.
I jerked at the hooks, feeling their bite as they clamped down into my flesh. I surged my will and tried to move, but the hooks dug deeper. I let out my breath, feeling the exhaustion, the pain that permeated my entire being. I willed my arm away, lifting it up and over a spike. I did the same with my other arm, freeing it at a price. The bones in my wrist cracked and popped, and it felt as if someone had broken all the bones and cut away the flesh around them.
I gritted my teeth and twisted my body, making the hooks go deeper but also making them as tight as I could. I felt a pop, a tear, and the hooks tore out of my body, and I fell to the ground whimpering.
I was free.
I crawled to the light, forcing myself along. Cartilage and bone stuck out of my hands, my wrists and arms. Blood ran off my limbs, making the surface slick under me.
When I finally reached the light, I stretched out my bloodied hand and pulled them back. What was it that creature said? Stay in the dark. Do not go into the light. I cried out, and said, “Dear Lord forgive me.” The rays of light moved towards me. I felt a pull, and into a new place, I went.