Trapped: Part 1
“Oh you poor thing, it looks like you’re stuck,” she trilled.
“Trapped, is more like it,” he said.
The gurgle of the river’s run filled the air for miles around, birdsong and the rustle of leaves through the green grass. Trees swaying in the distance, although from his vantage point lying face down on the rock he had to crane his neck far back to catch a glimpse of them.
She appeared tall — although everyone looks tall when you’re lying face down on the ground. Wearing a black dress that matched the color of her hair and dark eyes. Or was it a very dark shade of blue? Oh, what did it matter?
Blood shone along the length of the spike his right hand had impaled itself on. It was a long spike, but under normal circumstances he could have simply stood up and, albeit painfully, extricated his hand from the trap. But with his legs enmeshed in an enclosing net, he could not stand.
“It’s a shame you’ve gotten so stuck. Maybe you’ll learn to pay more attention next time,” she said with a kindly smile.
“You could help me get free from this net,” he said.
“Oh? Oh yes, I suppose I could,” she said. Without moving a muscle.
“Whoever set this trap for me,” he said, “Is going to be very sorry when I get free of it.”
“It doesn’t look like you’ll be getting free of me any time soon, sad to say. It, I mean. Getting free of it.”
“Leave me alone, you witch.”
She smiled. “You know what, I will. But I’ll be back tomorrow, you’ll see. And who knows, maybe I’ll even bring you something to eat. See how much I’m helping you?”
With immense calm he said, “I see exactly how much you’re helping me.”
With a laugh and swirl of her skirts, she vanished, singing a song about a golden infant born out of flame. She had such a lovely voice.
The pain in my hand is incredible. How could I have been so stupid to fall into this trap? That damned witch! I’ll murder her with my bare hands as soon as I get out of this. But how will I do that? I’m so weak. My God, I’ll never get free what can I do what can I do what can I do…
Calm yourself. Breathe. Breathe. There is a way out of this. You’ll get your revenge. Focus on the pain in your hand. The hole she’s ripped into you, although she’ll never admit it. Focus on the pain. Wrap your awareness around the pain, let your thoughts crystallize around it and let it give you strength. Do nothing to dull it and don’t seek relief. Become one with the pain, allow it to penetrate into every crevice of your awareness. Let it be your purpose, your guide, your strength.
But for now. Rest.
Either too early or too late, but certainly not at the right time, the witch was back the next day. She carried a satchel with a flask of water and a loaf of bread in one hand, and in the other she held a golden goblet shining with inlaid emeralds.
“I told you I’d be back to help you,” she said. “Don’t you see how much I help you?”
“Bread and water, how lovely. I didn’t realize I’d be dining like a king.”
“Keep this up and it may be a long while before I visit you again,” she said sweetly.
“I’d hate to be denied the pleasure of your presence.”
She laughed and came down in front of him, planting her left foot squarely on his impaled right hand as she held the bread and water out to him. He cried out in a sudden gasp of pain and she said, “Oh, how clumsy of me! I’m so very sorry.”
And speaking these words, she pressed her foot all the more firmly on his hand until its every nerve squealed with exquisite agony. Producing the golden goblet, she held it below his face as if she expected him to drink from it.
But the goblet was empty.
He locked his eyes in rage with hers as the tears welled up. One by one, the tears flowed down and filled the golden vessel all inlaid with green gems. When it was finally full the woman smiled, removed her foot from his bleeding hand, and drained the cup in one long draft.
“A bit too salty today,” she said. She gave him the loaf of bread and the water flask, watching with amusement as he ate and drank. “Don’t you see everything I do for you? You should thank me.”
He stared up at her. Silent.
She lifted her foot and let it hover threateningly over his wounded hand. “I said you should thank me.”
His eye twitched, but he remained silent.
She pressed the foot down on his hand with agonizing force and his awareness exploded with excruciating pain and even more excruciating hate. “Thank me.”
Bear the pain. She’s got you. There’s no winning this right now. But you can keep your dignity, at least in your own eyes. Count down from ten first.
Beads of sweat formed on his brow.
The fingers on the hand twitched erratically, moving on their own without his control.
She grimaced, pressing all the harder down on his hand.
“Thank you,” he groaned.
“That’s better,” she said, relieving the pressure. “Good pet.”
And with that she was gone.
This routine continued, day after day after day. The agony, the tears, the goblet, the feeding, and the ritual humiliation grew to be etched into the fabric of the day like a law of nature, inevitable as the rising and the setting of the sun. The only real difference was in her judgment of the taste of his tears.
“Too salty today,” most commonly.
“Too bland,” sometimes.
“Too sweet,” less often.
“Oh, excellent, just the right mix of flavors,” on rare occasions.
And to his chagrin and embarrassment, it gave him no little pleasure to hear those words from her sweet voice.
Not just her voice, either. Though the days passed and his body grew stronger, he felt her bewitching influence working its way through his soul. Though his pride rebelled at it, he found himself counting the slow moments in anticipation of her daily visits. Though he gritted his teeth at the thought, his heart glowed when he first heard her charming voice. Though he hated himself for it, he shed more tears after her departure than he did when she planted her foot on his hand and held out the cup.
And the more the hate in his heart contended with this new emotion, the more he feared the hate would not prove the stronger of the two.
All the more reason to focus squarely on the pain and thoughts of escape. He swore in his heart never to give in to the tender spell she’d cast on his heart.
Soon, very soon, he would be strong enough to free himself from the net in the night. He just had to be careful that she didn’t notice his recovering strength — he’d learned well the witch’s trick of appearing weak when one is at one’s strongest. But soon he would make his escape.
And he’d make her pay for every instant of agony.