I forced my swollen eyes open. The bleeding, electric pain, grinding bone halted me.
Dripping water in the dark … inky pitch … distant, echoing.
I couldn’t see. I seized my breath a ragged gasp, as my hand flailed forward into the blackness, trying to push it away.
But the binding on my wrists was cutting. It held me fast against the concrete floor that peeled the skin from my shoulders, back, thighs with every movement.
I willed myself into a corpselike stillness, listening for movement, breathing, sadistic laughter.
Nothing … save the stench of coagulation and vomit.
A need for air gripped me like a vise. From deep within a longing to run, get out, find someplace with at least a flicker of light.
Stairs. I’d stumbled down them. His hand pushing me.
I turned, slow against the throbbing that clawed my shoulders and ribs, squinting in the murk, willing myself to find the passage up, out. But hope was swallowed in the pall pressing interminably against my torn flesh.
I shuddered, watching through my memory’s disbelieving lens, fingers clutching and yanking long blonde hair. The fist, like a hammer, again and again …
A moan, sodden and wet, swallowed the depths. A dirge, broken anguish … my voice? … mingling with the distant splashing. Tears coequal and forgotten.
He’d left me, a battered, sobbing heap, the closing door sealing the crypt.
This was meant to be my tomb.
I kicked against the cords gouging each ankle; a spider’s web holding fast … and I’d been bitten.
The image of a burning steeple rolled through me, collapsing into a carnivorous scarlet maelstrom.
I wanted it back …
“Oh God …” my words trailed away.
I waited, the incessant metronome spattering.
Thunder from my racing heart.
Cold air bit my wounds.
“I need you …”
From beyond the walls, muffled voices.
I screamed …
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