Spaces by Alyssa Kelley

He woke up in a golden, gilded cage with a blanket covering his lower legs. A deep hazy fog hung around his head, clouding the sight he knew he should have. Blood was pounding in his ears, threatening to rupture his eardrums and end the world of sound.

Slowly, he pulled his body against his knees and hung tight to his own shins, waiting for the dizziness to subside. As the veil slipped away from his vision the room beyond became more astute. A darkened stone cobble way and wooden work tables attached to a pair of dirt walls with numerous instruments (some he could not put names to) strewn about like forgotten toys.

Dread dripped into his veins as a realization dawned upon him. Nothing good could come of a cage and the "dark and stormy night" fa├žade that was building here. Fear sharpened his senses bringing details and twinges of pain to a new light. With widened eyes he looked down at his own body only to find a criss crossing map of thick and jagged stitches encircling him. A fine series of tremors broke out in a rippling run down hi arms as he let ultrasensitive fingertips trace the twine that bound his limbs and torso. It dived in and out of his skin like a dotted line from hell, holding him together from threats unseen....

Who could do such a thing to another living person?....

What sort of living person could survive such a grotesque procedure?....

All at once the man remembered the urban legends from his childhood. Stolen kidneys and bathtubs that drenched you in Arctic ice water. Black market transactions and missing person's reports. He couldn't recall the last time he looked upon daylight or had spoken a world out loud. The muscles ached and strained against the unnatural objects and the more he tried to move the more the fiber of his being screamed in protest. He attempted to look up and hissed as the twine lines all over him jerked his head back into place. It simply wouldn't give for the movement. He had enough room to move into a comfortable sitting position but not enough to stand at all. The scratchy, rough blanket moved like dried snake skin against his legs and made gooseflesh rub up to the surface. It looked to be a soft cream color but the darker ominous stains made bile rise up the back of his throat. ....

Panic.....

Panic engulfing him and he could feel his heart ramming against his ribcage like a captured wild thing. –At least the fiend didn't take my heart – the man joked to himself and chilled water flooded the pit of his stomach as he cooled at his own tasteless jest. "Laugh to keep from crying, son…" his mother's voice floated through his disembodied mind and a high strained chuckle passed from between his lips. Raw, utter horror caused him to ignore the pain in his body and rise to his knees, searching the gleaming bars. He felt diligently for a lock, a clasp, a knob or anything of the sort. It came to no fruit. A low groan escaped his throat and he felt a literal snap inside his head. ....

No. No defeat. Close your eyes and try it again.....

Closing his eyelids, he concentrated on seeing through his finger's nerve endings. Up one pole and down another, patiently one by one to feel for the mechanism he knew had to be there. Four walls and several groping tries before he fell back on his wounded side and cursed the sod-made ceiling. ....

You sound pathetic, a trapped animal ready to gnaw your own leg off to escape the cooking pot. Focus. There must be a door. how else were you put inside?....

Nodding, the man reached his arms above his head, ready for a new attempt at something he had not yet tried. He began feeling his way across the bars lying horizontally there. Of course! You will not find an opening on the sides when it's on top. Eyes springing open he felt a huge surge of relief; he had found the way out! The thick threads sewn into his throat wouldn't let him look at his work but he could feel it out. Blindly, he had to figure out a way to release himself. The golden metal was cool beneath his hands, almost frigid. The sweat and beaded blood misting his body took on a distinct chill and his contracting skin made the stitching ache. With nothing but the filth encrusted blanket to protect his tender self he was a target for internal enemies as well. – Can't decide which is worse, sepsis from that gross cover or pneumonia from my nudity. So many infections so little time- He scolded himself for not concentrating on the task at hand. He could feel the key hole and the long bar to pull and unhinge the cage door but despite his frantic tugs he knew it was locked tight. A key. For all the world a key. Once again he let his eyes roam the earthen work room. His cell was bolted to the floor in the center of the stone. The splintered tables hung suspended to the walls with a length of thick oiled rope. The rusted torture tools lay discarded on the counter tops. A drain, tacky and mucked with a sinister black stain. ....

The man did not even want to venture a guess. ....

No pictures adorned the walls, no decoration of any contemporary sort. A bare yellow bulb hung directly over head; a door was sunk into the far wall, disguised by the dirt; closest to him was a green chalkboard. The ghosts of long ago lessons still lingered there, faint and unreadable. A name was written at the very top, seeming to drop down toward the right corner. The hand writing was small and sharp, all angles and lines. One word and then a host of numbers.....

SAMUEL.....

Was this his attacker? His kidnapper's name? Or was this his own name? He couldn't remember. Forget it, forget it. He had to push "Samuel" and his unknown face....

(did I even try and think what my face looks like right now? Is it scarred and unrecognizable like the rest of me?)....

out of the forefront of his mind. He had to reconsider his objective. A key and the unlockable lock. Find your way now. He considered his options and realized just how futile the whole endeavor may just be. What was he supposed to do to free himself? When would the faceless "Samuel" return? There was most definitely no key littered amongst the rusted tools. He was almost positive it would be gold and shimmering like the cage it belonged to. Maybe "Samuel" had taken it with him? No he wouldn't think of this now. All he needed was right in this room. He was sure. He had to be sure. So what was his next step? He had the blanket… and the bars were just so… perhaps he could…? Yes of course he could. It was all a matter of willing his body to cooperate. Slow, as to not upset his stitching ....

(what had been taken?)....

he pulled himself as close to the bars and nearest table that he could manage. Then he tested the open space between the yellow poles. Yes his arm was just the right width. Moving it up and down, to and fro, he was pleased that he could maneuver with little to no pain. Lovely! The man gathered the soiled blanket into his sweaty fists and balled it up. It was easily shoved between the negative space and once his hand was suspended over the stone floor he let the cover unfurl. He locked eyes on his target, a short medieval looking handsaw. He would throw the blanket, cover the saw and pull it back toward him. From there he would cut loose the bars and crawl to freedom. Piece of pie. With hope and faith buoying his heart the man readied his shaking arm and with a meaty grunt he tossed the blanket. ....

It landed with a soft thump on the stone. ....

Cursing, he pulled the mass back and balled it tight, trying again. This time most of the blanket covered most of the work table. Victory! With measured tugs, the patchwork of his arms which plagued him raggedly with torment, he pulled the saw and felt the catch of the saw's teeth as he did. With a colossal shrill TWANG! the instrument fell to the cobbles and let the sound hang resounding in the tiny room. Oh his throbbing head sang! He had not calculated the landing nor the fact that it could alarm guards or even the "Samuel" himself. Jerkily, frightened now that he would hear footsteps from beyond the door he pulled at the blanket, forcing the saw to gravitate to him. He felt his anticipation rising as he inched his freedom ever closer. This… was going… to work! And before his straining ears could decipher any heavy footfalls, the rough wooden handle was in his palm and he was slipping it between the bars. He surveyed the nubby teeth with disdain and almost let the bubble of his triumph burst inside him. It would work though. It HAD to work, for all his sanity and the sake of everything pure and wholesome. He ran his thumb over the sharpened end and tested its ability. Not too promising…....

POSITIVE THINKING YOU LUNKHEAD!....

He shrugged away the tightness in his shoulders –not effectively at all- and set the teeth against the metal bars. The man began to saw.....

What seemed like years later, the man worked hard at trying to earn his freedom. Several times he felt nauseating pops along his back and shoulders. It wasn't until he felt a rapid pa-pa-pa-pa-pa-POP! over his left forearm did he associate the sensations. He took a gander at the abused form of himself and could not suffer himself to lean any longer. The crude sewing was swollen and caused his flesh to redden. Blood smeared over most of what was exposed. The random bursts he had heard had been the stitches coming free and breaking through the epidermis. New streams of his life coursed downwards leaving warm red trails behind. The man got an image of macabre snails. Desperation was mounting now, higher than the man had ever felt. His ears picked up the desolate moans far sooner than his mind registered that they came from him. For minutes upon minutes he couldn't stop the sounds from escaping, on the contrary they seemed to double, triple in severity until his aching head could not take it and he fell back against the wall of his prison. Panting in the midst of his whimpers he tried to measure his escape's progress. Small yet noticeable knicks had been made in the metal. All that sawing for an unfathomable amount of time and he had no real prize to show for it. He could almost feel the light fade from his eyes. All the while he had been at work on the bars he had recited prayers from his youth. The Aves rising and falling with the passion of his task. Now as he saw the success drain away he composed a new prayer. He did not direct himself to the Holy Mother, nor any angel or saint but directly to God Himself.....

Release me Father and cup me to Your breast. Save me from the care of the faceless madman, from "Samuel" and deliver me home to You…....

A dark prayer. A prayer befitting the hopeless and the lost, someone who was truly alone. It was the man's true - - ....

Wait! And what was this new witchery? As he had laid back, eyes cast longingly to the heavens, he had spied a plot twist he had not expected. The thin, spindly bolt that kept his cage door from opening. In his usual sitting position the sewn threads in the chords of his neck would not let him look at the ceiling this way. Only now with his injuries pressed horribly against the same cold metal could he see the way out. Smiling now, he knew he would be alright. The bolt was infinitely smaller than any one of the bars. Not too much effort at all would be enough to snap it, especially with his trusty rusty saw. Quickly, with renewed enthusiasm, he sat up straight- - ....

POP!....

…and quickly he lay back, feeling a new gust of pain. Another popped stitch. He couldn't bear to wait for it all to pass, God only knew when someone would come for him to finish the job! More cautiously than before he sat up and tried to seek out the lock's bar. To no avail, the threads had no give to allow his muscles to elongate. Steeling himself, he put one finger to the twine in him, and felt for a knot or anything to remove the tightness. Nothing. He swallowed once audibly and then with every ounce of courage and self-preservation he could muster, he slipped the finger under the thread and he pulled. ....

And screamed. ....

He felt the sewing pop loose and a new wave of mutilation washed down over his shoulder and the soft skin of his throat. A repeat performance on the other side. ....

His vision swam. ....

His gut clenched. ....

Acidic bile crawled up his windpipe and threatened to loose itself on his wounded and scratched and bruised legs. ....

Release.....

Now, kneeling in a fetid puddle, a vomit and blood cocktail, he forced his sensitive neck to bend. The whole ordeal was slipping into a dreamlike quality. He raised the saw and heard the bolt snap. Felt the patter of the broken piece as it fell to take his place inside the cell. Picking himself up the man forced his shoulders against the door and began to sob as he felt it give way. Crawling up and over the cage was nothing compared to the hellish path he'd just walked. The cool feeling of the stone beneath his feet made him offer thanks and cry more earnestly. He stumbled and grasped a table for support. Hammers, screwdrivers, corkscrews, nails, plates and pieces of broken metals, bowls and so much more was strewn about. He grabbed for a softly shining bowl and rubbed the dust away. Courage never failed him as he peered in at his reflection. ....

Blonde, shaggy hair. Dark, wide brown eyes. A splatter of freckles. And a spider web of grey sewings connecting the contours of his face. ....

Hospital.....

Antibiotics.....

Medicine.....

Care.....

This became is new mantra, peppered with "thank you"s and "I'm sorry"s and "please, somebody help me"s. he shuffled to the earthen door and went to shove it open when it fell away beneath his hands. A man stood there. A white coat with blue piping, ashen blonde and a splatter of freckles below smiling brown eyes. A joyful, soulful smile. This was his face. ....

"Good evening, Sam" the man with his face said to him. ....

So I am… "Samuel"?....

"How did we sleep? We've been a very busy boy, haven't we? We ruined our handiwork, now what would Mother say?"....

Mother?....

Laugh to keep from crying, son, my Samuel…....

"We know better than to fight ourselves. And we know what is best… let us lain the bad to rest, Sam. Let us complete our work."....

Two pieces of a whole. Images and snippets of memories, ideas, discoveries. One man. One body. Good. Evil. Right. Wrong. Samuel. The first in the separation process.....

Me.....

The weight of it all hit him with a force to be reckoned with and he straightened ruined shoulders. The monotone, the soft lilting accent of his voice was exactly that of his captor but that didn't matter now. He wasn't afraid. It all just mattered to finish the research. To complete the project.....

"Yes, Samuel." The man said to himself, "Let us change the world…" ....


I'm a Texan writer that prefers to write horror/fantasy pieces that usually leave my reader with a chance to decide for themselves where the tale ends up. I have been told that I'm allergic to happy endings and I embrace this. Writing for most of my life, I still enjoy making people shiver.