Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Selfishness( 02/14/05)
Under the East River
By Maxx .
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I became an addict.
The tunnel was black and smelled of mildew and rot. I had to drag the girl most of the distance. She wouldn't walk. My foot slipped into the gutter, mud sopped my shoes. I swore and shouldered open the rusted service door, pushing her inside.
She stumbled away from me until her back pressed against the opposite wall. The rats scurrying about her feet made her squirm to the corner.
"What? You don't like my place? Not as nice as your sorority?" I threw the breaker, lighting the bulb. Her eyes were wide with panic behind strands of blond hair.
She whimpered, helpless and pathetic. She reeked of fear. I owned her.
I bolted the door.
The overhead pipes were slick and black with moisture from the East River above. I ducked beneath them and stepped towards her. She turned away and slid to the floor in a cowering crouch, her torn jeans pressed against her cleavage. I leaned over her and yanked the tape from her mouth.
I shook the tape in her face. "Do you want me to put this back on? Do you?" She blinked and tears spilled down her cheeks like a torrent. "I didn't think so. Just the same, we'll leave your hands bound until you settle down." I felt power swell within me. "I'm your whole world right now. Nobody comes here. Nobody can hear you."
"Don't hurt me. Please. Please. Don't hurt me—" Her voice faltered.
I laughed. "I wouldn't put money on that; but maybe if you begged."
She rolled her head from me, her expression twisted and trembling, blood dripping from her torn lips. She spoke in a muttered jumble. "Oh God, oh God, oh God."
"God?" I watched the rodents stare from the drain holes in the floor. "You really think God's going to come down here to save you?" I waved my hand towards the graffiti streaked walls. "This is my temple. You'd be better off praying to me."
Her eyes tracked my smallest movement. I was everything.
"What are you going to do with me?"
I stood over her and leaned down, grabbing the hair on both sides of her head. I lifted until her eyes were inches from mine. "I take whatever I want and nobody can stop me." Flecks of my spittle peppered her face and mixed with her tears. "Are you afraid?"
She nodded in short spastic motions, her voice a constricted whisper. "Yes."
"Afraid to die?" I craved her broken submission.
"No. Not death." She inhaled and raised her chin.
Defiance? I opened my knife and held the blade to her throat. “Then what?”
She shuddered, her face pale and drained. "Just of what you'll do."
I slammed her against the wall and stepped away, kicking her legs as I moved. "Liar. Everyone's afraid to die."
She cried out on impact and crumpled in a heap. "No, I hope for more." Her breath was jagged and sharp. "There's more after this." She swallowed. "After you're done. There's more for me."
My fingers twitched and I forced them through my hair. A fire raged in my gut; the pulse in my neck pounded. "You think I don't know what you're talking about? I know more than you. I've seen your churches. You all believe that God is so powerful, that everything works for good, that you get to go to heaven when you're dead." I spit on the ground by her face. "Then how do you explain me? Did God tell you to walk home alone tonight? Did he plan for you to be here?"
She seemed unsure, confused.
She sat herself back up. "It'll work for good."
"I'm not part of any plan. I make the plans." I was overcome with hatred towards the girl. "What possible good will come of this?"
She raised her eyes to mine and held them there, a new softness replaced the terror. "God loves you." She spoke the words as if her entire life existed simply to utter them at that moment in time.
I fell backwards and crashed against the door. It felt like I had been hit. My vision clouded, then turned red. A grain of doubt had taken root. I pushed it aside and glared at the girl.
She closed her eyes and seemed at peace.
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