Freedom

I stare at my wrist, watching life push through my veins. I know I’m imagining the ripples of cells straining their thin walls, but it’s become real to me. It is me.

The small, sharpened knife grows warm in my other hand. “Blood for freedom,” I breathe out.

Perched on the chair in my living room, with nothing to look at save the eggshell walls, I feel a far-too-familiar pressure beginning its assault. “Blood for freedom” echoes in the room. Maybe it’s only in my head.

Thin scars, both fresh and faded, wrap around my arm. I touch the knife to my skin. The merest pressure opens a red line beside a previous wound. Dark liquid seeps from the new stripe. I stare. Waiting. Hoping.

Blood for freedom.

“Fuck you,” I hiss and draw the knife deeper, longer. There is no fear, no pain. Nothing. Blood comes faster, but I don’t bother to hope.

Blood for freedom.

I’ve avoided this as long as I could, but it is inevitable. If people knew what I did to those poor creatures, they would call me a sadist. My lovers thought I was kinky. In the end it wasn’t enough.

Standing, I grab my keys and head into the spring night, knife in hand. My car revs to life, the engine purring like a big cat. I roll down the window and pop on some music for the short drive downtown. Crunching guitar riffs and the sound of rushing wind fill the sleek car but, like in my plain apartment, the call finds me.

Blood for freedom.

“I’m going!” I snap. I slice my arm again, hoping for a moment of peace. “I’m not a fucking miracle worker. I can’t just magically be there. Fuck fuck fuck!” I stab the knife into the passenger seat and turn the music up louder.

When I reach the parking lot of the abandoned office building, I flip off the music and drive around back like always. It took awhile, but once I found this place, I knew it would happen here. There could only ever be one outcome. I turn off the car and leave the knife in my seat. I’ll be using the one in my pocket instead.

Blood for freedom!

I gasp as the air is knocked from me and black dots dance across my vision. I steady myself before opening the car door and slide out.

“You win,” I say.

I slip past the broken door and into the dark corridor. I wait, my senses adjusting. It slips into the background to give me space to work. Light flickers from under a couple of the closed doors. Creaks and groans of a building in disrepair mix with murmured voices as I start down the hall. I don’t bother checking the doors; those people have lived on the streets the longest. They’ve learned to survive. In this world they have far more power than I do.

A handful of living areas, denoted by old sleeping bags and cardboard boxes with meager possessions, are in the lobby. A couple people are asleep, a few bags are empty. One kid, maybe twenty years old, gives me a long look. I smile and nod.

Blood for freedom!

If I weren’t already taking a step to the left to enter the bathroom, my stumble would have been far more noticeable. My bloody palm hits the wall to steady myself as my other hand presses open the door and I go in. I pull out my battery night-light and tap it on, sliding it onto the counter, and weird shadows pop up in the room. It doesn’t take long for the kid to join me.

“I was wondering if I would ever get a turn,” he says. “Twenty bucks, right?”

I produce the bill from my pocket, palming my switchblade at the same time.

BLOOD FOR FREEDOM!

I choke out a breath that I play off as a cough as I stagger back. I grab the counter and double over. It feels like fire inside my veins. I close my hand tighter on my knife, hoping it gets the idea.

“You okay, man?” The kid’s voice wavers.

“Yeah,” is all I can manage. I take a deep breath, and the burning retreats enough to let me refocus. I let the twenty slip from my hand and fall to the floor. “Sorry about that.”

“No worries. I need to be down there anyway.”

He kneels as I straighten. He’s looking at the floor when I press the button and the blade shoots out. He looks up, unwittingly exposing his neck. My arm is already coming down. My knife pierces his soft flesh and sinks down to the hilt. Blood spurts around the edges. I let the weight of my body topple onto him. His screams are muffled against me. I slide the knife side to side as best I can, widening the wound. Warm liquid soaks through my clothes.

Blood for freedom.

The words calm me now.

Blood for freedom.

Fading to silence.

Blood for freedom.

As the light fades in the kid’s eyes.

I stand, my clothes sodden with blood. I pick up the twenty and leave it on the counter, tucking my knife and light back in my pocket. I look back at the kid sprawled on the floor. I did the rest of them here a favor, one less person to compete with.

This is my life now. I only wonder how long it will be until I have to kill again.

∼ Mark Steinwachs

© Copyright Mark Steinwachs. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Deluge

The crack of the loudest thunder clap roars; my body vibrates with the echo, an untamed longing for more.

The joy washed away; a vile deluge now pouring, the razor’s slash of the cruelest tongue.

Pain inflicted with intent to harm; ripping at my sanity in an unjust tumult of words, the harshest weapons of all.

My mind torn to pieces; this voice carries devastation, wielded with nary a care for the moments yet to come.

A shattering silence; how loud the quiet has become, how lonely this false sense of solitude.

The patter of a different storm; a shedding that cleanses, gently this time in a subtle downpour.

If only you’d count the raindrops with me; do you see – they are beginning to fall…

~ Nina D’Arcangela

© Copyright 2013 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.

Bound

As I look down at her cuffed and shackled form lying in its own filth and squalor on the stone floor, I feel no pity, no remorse, no compassion for what has been done to this pathetic creature before me. I feel revulsion and shame – shame that she would allow herself to come to this.

She begs me to free her, to release her from this pain and torment. Though she may be ignorant of the consequences, these things she asks of me are within my capacity to grant. Reaching down, I grasp her collared throat and pull the wretch towards me, snapping free wrist restraints and the chain that attaches her collar to stone. Blood trickles freely where her bonds are torn. She pleads with me not to hurt her. Hurt her? I would never harm that which begs for its own mercy, I would not debase myself in such a way. I wish only to have her pathetic carcass removed from my view and rid myself of its vile stench. She may not be of a mind to understand this, but we all serve a master – and mine requires I perform this act of compassion towards this putrid thing, my choice unconsidered.

Into a sunlight she’s not seen in years, I drag her writhing body. She yelps at being treated so, hauled across the soil in my vise-like grip. But having been kept chained in darkness for so long, there is no fight left in her.

Reaching a calm pool of water trapped in the curve of a small sun filled recess alongside a river, I toss her ripe and blood caked body to the ground. With a gentleness she does not expect nor deserve, I kneel beside her as I remove the symbols of the sins committed against her; the first of which is the collar I too have used to tame her.

Unsure what to make of such an act, she looks on me with both fear and desperation. An overwhelming desire to believe I am her savior crawls through her amber stare. This wretched girl, this torn and shame ridden child of man, covered in her own vile excrement and foul drippings – she wears her guilt as though it were a queen’s cloak, yet soaked in the foulest of deeds. Salvation she wishes for, in her eyes she is not to blame for all that has transpired. Is there yet kindness enough left within me to offer her such a thing, she silently begs. Yes, I believe there is.

Removing my own shirt, I dip it into the clear water at the river’s edge. Tentative of my ministrations at first, she cowers as I use the garment to cleanse not only her damaged body, but also her ruined soul. I allow the cool water to rinse over her hair, down her face, her exposed back, baptizing her body once again in a purity she cannot even remember she once possessed.  Washed clean she is a thing of beauty even to my time ravaged eye; it’s no wonder I found her trapped in such a pit. Beauty is the trickster’s tool – it is a thing to be cherished, a thing of great value, a thing most would hold in high regard. But beauty is also a curse that cannot be outrun when the shadow of evil takes notice and comes to call, exacting payment for just such an indulgence.

Gazing at the creature before me, I admit her beauty seems near a virtue, or I should say may have at one time. Having been used and wrung dry, this beauty is scarred so deeply on the inside that I almost feel pity for her – almost.

I watch her for quite some time; captivated by the mere sight of her and the quiet joy she seems to extract from her new-found freedom. My gaze cannot help but wander her exquisite form. She opens her eyes. No longer filled with fear, I see admiration and gratitude for this benevolence I have shown her.

As her hair blows in the soft breeze, I lean over her, our raven locks intertwine as if to embrace for a lover’s dance. She gently shuts her eyes as my hand strokes through her hair, down her cheek, coming to rest on her alabaster throat that is turned up and exposed to me in a gesture of supplication. I pause long enough for her to open her eyes once again, long enough to breathe in her breath, long enough for her to fully convey an acceptance of my wants as a sign of gratitude for all that I have done for her.

My eyes peering into hers, our lips barely touching, my fingers still caressing her soft flesh, I snap her neck as though it were a bothersome twig in my path, and her limp form falls to the side.

I stand for a moment looking back on her. She retains a beauty and grace even in death, more so perhaps because of it. Her sins absolved? I hardly think so. She begged mercy from her god, a mercy that would set her free. Little did she know he would send a darkling in guise of beauty itself to free her of all her sins, even those she had not yet committed.

~ Nina D’Arcangela

© Copyright 2012 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.