September 18, 2013

18. The Kidnapping

The Unfinished Song: Initiate

“Kidnapped” by Luke M., PhotoAlterations


…Shuffling in the dark, followed by silence. You wake up with your heart already racing. Intrusive smells, chalk paste and feathers. Sweat. Beer. Heavy male breathing.

Their aim is to terrify you, disorient you, and they succeed. Grotesque heads loom over you, claw-like hands grasp you, yank you to the hay-strewn dirt in the goat pen under the loft. More hands smother your scream.
Their aim is to strip you of dignity, of comfort, and they do this literally. Horrible things, uglier and taller than men, surround you. They shove you from one to another, casual but brutal, tear off your clothes, smack your bare flesh, gag you and snag your wrists behind your back with scratchy twine. Beside you, your clan sister Jensi suffers the same abuse. Tibi cowers in a corner of the goat pen, but the kidnappers ignore her.
They herd you into the courtyard. Whitewashed adobe reflects the moonlight like bone. Night leechs color from the intricate designs painted on the houses, so the buildings look strangled by black nooses.
Firelight winks on a dozen naked captives, all in a line, a snake winding around the houses, preyed on by monsters. For a moment, you think the monsters are fae, some hideous sort, trolls or harpies, but fae do not carry torches or cast shadows. Fae glow with their own light. The kidnappers must be men in masks and mantas. As the enemy Tavaedi warriors shuffle and cavort, deformed shadows spring up to dance beneath and between them.
Their aim is to crush you, to grind you down like corn meal. They steal your senses one by one. You’ve already been gagged so tightly you find it hard to breath. Now they blindfold you. Have you ever had black cloth wrapped so tightly you can’t see a torch held right next to your face? No, you’ve only played at it, in children’s games. Real blindness, forced blindness, petrifies you. They shove a hol- lowed tree drum over your head, then pound it, assaulting your ears. Your hearing and balance, gone. A heavy basket, a mountain of stones, is forced onto your back. Your knees buckle under you, you want to collapse and cry, but you can’t afford weakness. A switch against your thighs drives you forward.
You hate the switch, the ropes, their rough hands, yet, in your helplessness, you crave even the touch of these things to guide you, assure you the rest of the world is there, that you aren’t lost alone blind and deaf in the dark.
Their aim is to keep you so exhausted, so helpless, you can’t think beyond surviving the next step, and the next after that. They never let you rest, they hit and curse and threaten you. They force-march you down a narrow trail through bushes and trees that slap you. Occasionally, you trip, slip, bump against another captive tied in the line, and this brief rub of flesh on flesh reassures you that you aren’t alone…


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Author’s Comments


I was kidnapped once. I was a cheerleader, and it was part of the hazing for the Senior boys from the band to kidnap the Frosh girls from the dance squad. I in no way objected to this kidnapping (I was really looking forward to it, in fact) but there was one girl whose parents opted out on her behalf because she had actually been kidnapped as a child, and they didn’t want her to have any traumatic flashbacks.

Tara Maya

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