When I regained consciousness, I noticed beer cans and cigarettes. There was a bong and bags of powder on the coffee table. The television set was small and the VCR had a video tape half inserted into it. X-rated movies were everywhere, sports bloopers too.
I received another clout to the back of the skull.
I woke up the second time when I heard masking tape being torn off then a paper rectangle emerging from the blackness, sticking hard over my mouth. I was in a basement or a dungeon of some kind. A hanging light bulb fired into life above me. It cast a glow onto the most unflattering aspects of Martha’s face. Her off-centre stare belonged to an escaped psyche ward patient. The strands of pure white in her hair shone like radioactive silk and when she smiled it was crooked and malicious.
The old hag was obviously blind. She came up to me grinning with one eye cocked and veering off to the right. She looked challenged but her smile suggested she simply suffered from an acute visual impairment.
– Fuck’n terrorists huh?
I tried to protest but the tape was too tightly fixed.
– We’re gonna come back for ya cripple. Doubt you’ll be goin anywhere anytime soon…
With that Martha reversed into the shadows. I heard her thump up the steps and close the door behind her.
I thought I might be able to dislocate my arm, pop the shoulder and wriggle out of the shackles. But I got too easily distracted. I guess that’s how I got into this mess in the first place. Even there, in an intense and dangerous situation my mind had wandered towards sex. They say we men think about it every 2.4 seconds so you can hardly blame me, right? The darkness made it easier to visualise their bodies, their curves. I could draw pink contours on the black canvas using just my mind. I conjured up images of girls with dark hair and heaving bosoms that sagged, fat with milk, rolling around on wide hips. There were images of big woman with knee dimples and guts that hid their pubis. One had a shrub of hair that snail-trailed up to her open bellybutton. They gave me a lap dance, squatting their large asses into my crotch. Then I realise I’m completely numb from the waist down. Funny how old habits persist. The women disappeared again and the darkness returned to haunt me.
The basement door re-opened and heavy boots thudded down each step. I felt like a stray pig out the sty hiding from the farmer. I suspected those footsteps belonged to the male humanoid who’d initially captured me. I was still tied to the chair and my neck hurt so I couldn’t see his face. I could only imagine what he must’ve looked like up close – probably wore a backward baseball cap all the time, a string vest too. He probably had the psychological makings of a serial killer – a strange and twisted creature void of empathy or compassion. I figured he’d most likely be tall and broad and brutish with a thick jaw and stubbly chin. He probably had sun red rashes all over him. His forearms were probably meaty and capable of wrestling women and small desert dwelling organisms into submission. He probably fornicated like a randy stag. He most likely always wore plaid jackets and lumberjack hats – the only useful thing his father taught him was how to break into cars and cheat people out of money – probably married young. He and his girlfriend were a classic product of the Crimson Sphere’s brain drain. He probably held down jobs in factories or cotton mills before relocating. It explained this clapboard shack. He most likely worked in an interplanetary fish farm now, netting Qual-carpe – a job he only managed to get because people were scared of him and his criminal history. A bad reputation preceding him, he looked for fights in inhospitable alien bars.
There was a clattering noise behind me. I froze with fear. He grunted and sniffed. Then the crunching leather boots ascended the staircase and the basement door opened and closed over once more. He was gone.
I always thought this sector of the Crimson Sphere was uninhabitable – maybe in the more Northern parts, but never this far South.
When I opened my eyes I forgot where I was and thought I’d gone blind. The panic passed as it all came flooding back to me. I was still in the pitch black basement. A voice spoke to me, throaty but gentle like a child with their tonsils just removed. It said:
– Who’s there?
– It’s – me…
– Who? The voice was stammered, interrupted by large gasps for oxygen like a fish on land or an asthmatic runner.
– Someone – who – can – get you – out – of here.
– I said who is it?
The voice without a body came out of the shadows. I couldn’t believe it. His face was so ugly – ears lop-sided, teeth jagged and loose on the gums, head like an oversized popsicle. It was MY face, only disfigured. He came just into view.
– You – want – out – don’t you?
I nod. His smile widened.
– Then if – I loosen – your – hands and – feet – you – need – to – do – what I tell you. We’ll – be – ok – if you – follow – my – instructions – ok?
Again I nod. The binders came loose and I lifted my wrist up to my chest to rub it. The mirror image was gone. I reached down and undid the knee straps. I twisted my neck until it cracked back into place. I fell to the floor and began dragging myself up the staircase out of the basement.
Martha and the male humanoid were having an argument. I figured this was as good a time as any to sneak off. But even with the front door well within my sights, something made me stay put. I was drawn to the kitchen where the argument was being held. In turning the corner to view the two inbred monstrosities, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Cowering in the corner was the male, streaks of blood darting down his face. His face was ghostly white and wet with tears. Standing over him with a frying pan in her hand was Martha. She twirled her head and stared right at me with that asymmetrical gaze of hers. She lowered the frying pan and un-crooked her back.
My stomach tightened.
– Martha, are you going to hurt your father with that? I gestured to the pan in hand. She thinks for a moment then nods shamefully. I moved closer.
– I wouldn’t judge you if you decided to drop it on his head.
Martha looked at the male as if the notion of actually killing him never crossed her mind – he was lying on the kitchen floor, a gash above his left eyebrow, seemingly unable to lift himself to his feet. He was even more hideous than before. She had his complete submission.
– I dun want that though.
– Why not Martha?
– He’s ma pop… and ma brother…
– Well if he wasn’t around, you could play outside all day.
Martha’s head tilted in contemplation. It was working. She drew her gaze back onto me. I could tell she didn’t entirely trust me but her simple mind had been compromised by my apparent lack of fear.
– We’re both the same you and me.
– Huh? He loves me…
– No Martha, he doesn’t. He told me.
Martha whipped her head around to her cowering father/sibling and started yelling
– YOU TOL’ HIM THAT?
The male creature put two palms in the air but a switch in Martha had been turned on and before I knew what’s what, she’d begun thrashing the frying pan down onto his head. I winced as his skull gave way and his eyes became cancelled out. Pretty soon the old hag was just repeatedly mashing up brain matter. She stopped mid-air, just realising what she’d done. I saw in her face the horror of her own actions. I’m no longer scared.
– Well done Martha. You did the right thing.
I shuffled closer. She needed to be embraced. She picked me up like a legless teddy bear, holding me at arms-length. As she moved in, mouth agape, eyes unable to blink, I seized my grip around Martha’s neck until her head flopped limply in my hands. We both tumbled to the kitchen floor. I retrieved the male’s shotgun resting on the counter and cocked it.
I put the shotgun in Martha’s mouth, pulled the trigger. She flew through the shotgun shack window and into the sand yard out back.
– You are one ugly motherfucker.
The male, in his last breath mouthed something almost unintelligible. I barely made it out.
– You think we a fright…wait till you see our kid!
Something flip-flopped in my gut – the ugly kid…
I fired the second round into his face sending a splatter of entrails all over the tiles.