The Iron Pendulum – continued

I whispered, afraid the voice in the darkness would hear me and answer. Softly, ever so softly, I called his name, hoping for a response this time.

“Hugo?”

Silence.

The dripping sound somewhere to the right kept an off tempo beat as it dripped and splashed, dripped, plopped and splashed. My eyes hurt something awful and as I rubbed them, I could feel something sticky and wet coating them. With one finger lifted close to my nose, I dared a big sniff. Oh no! I was hoping and praying what I smelt at first wasn’t what I thought it would be. Yes. Blood. The slow uneven dripping accompanied my erratic breathing as I fumbled, trying to find where the blood was coming from. Head? No, still intact and apart from sore bits and scratches, nothing to write home about. Neck, shoulders, arms, legs? All fine with minimal scratches.

The hollow sound of footsteps approaching had me shuffling back in the darkness, trying to find a safe corner. How long had I been here? It felt as though my eyes were open whilst my brain was asleep! Confused and unsure, my heart raced as the steps drew closer. A small pool of light illuminated brown shoes with little tassels bobbing happily as the steps found me and stopped. A hand touched my face and I screamed, my arms flailing about trying to bat the inquisitive touch away.

Silence.

I stopped to listen and watch the shoes. They didn’t move and as much as I wanted to, my eyes refused to move up into the dark to find the face. I don’t think I could take much more and seeing the monster that had trapped me was not going to help. A hand appeared in the pool of light holding a metal tin filled with food and bottled water. My hands moved faster than my brain and the tin was on my lap in seconds, tearing away at the wrapping around a ham, cheese and lettuce roll. Oh God! It tasted so good. How long ago had I eaten? It didn’t matter. Nothing mattered but the food in my dirty, blood coated hands. The thought hit me like a freight train and I gagged. Bloody hands mixed with ham and cheese! Everything bolted back up my oesophagus and out onto the shoes in front of me. My body retched as I knelt on all fours, stomach arching in, and back arching up. By the time I had finished, the shoes were gone and so was the small pool of light. I don’t know what felt worse – the fact that I didn’t know where exactly the vomit was located on the floor or the fact that I had lost the tin with the bottled water. Bummer.

“Hugo!” My voice echoed in the dark. It sounded raw and painful. How many hours had it been since the shoes had visited? When would they return?

Something squeaked behind me. Rats! I hate rats! My screams rang out and deafened even me. They must have frightened the rat because I didn’t hear from it again. Instead, a soft ‘click, click, click, squelch’ replaced it. So the drip, splash and drip, plop, splash had something added to it. This was crazy. I needed to find that sound. Maybe there was a way out or a door close to the drip. My fingers walked, feeling in front of me as I crawled forward, stopping only for wetness or sharp edges. I followed the drip, edging closer to it. The sound came from above my head – a trough or something. The sides were cold and smooth and the same stickiness on my hands coated parts of it. Eww! The sickness returned, but I forced myself to swallow it down.

I focused on my fingers to keep them moving. They found the rim of the trough and I slowly pushed myself up, using the rim as support. My legs were a bit shaky but stable enough to keep me standing. I noticed for the first time that my feet were bare and very cold on the cement floor. An involuntary shiver followed the thought, but I pushed it to the back of my mind and kept my hands moving, trying to locate the drip. Found it. It wasn’t a tap as I initially thought. It felt more like a funnel. A drop fell onto my fingertips. They automatically rubbed together, feeling the texture of the drop. It was thick, sticky and wet. My body went cold. Half of me wanted to crawl back to the other side of this dark place and hide again, whilst my curious half reached forward and into the trough. It was full, in fact overflowing. The sticky liquid ran over the sides. I smelt my fingers again. Blood!

Something hysterical snapped and the screaming couldn’t stop. My legs tried to run but my momentum pushed me before my legs could respond properly, sending me tripping forward. My body overcompensated for balance just as my feet found a puddle of the slick overflow. Slipping, running on the spot trying to balance… my last thought before my head connected with the concrete was Hugo.

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