I have recently been looking through old files of mine and discovered some short stories I had written, and have decided to post them here on Ember.
This first was a short story I wrote for a old friend's larp game, it was supposed to be a memory for one of her players, but I like it as a standalone too. Enjoy.
“Get up!” A stern voice shouted, hitting the bars of my cell with a wooden baton. The noise ringing out in the empty space of my hole.
I awoke suddenly, thrust from the warmth of my dreams. I sprung to my feet, keeping my posture low, in a defensive position. My body ached, the cold, hard floor of my cell taking a toll on my aging muscles. My neck was crinked, my calves cramped, and my left arm was numb from sleeping on the stone. I could feel my heart hammer in my chest, my breath lodged in my throat.
“Morning Little Doll,” the voice leered at me. His tongue slipping from the confines of his mouth to lap at his dry lips. I knew that voice. Recognised it as soon as I heard it. That was the voice of my torturer; the one man who was allowed to do as he wished, with no consequences from the Cult Leaders. He was my keeper. My guard. My living nightmare.
His stare haunted me when I closed my eyes, cold and unforgiving were those blue irises. Those same eyes looked upon me now, peering between the metal bars of the cell in which I called home. I was kept here during the night. Shackled to the ground like a dog, and treated worse than such. The weight of the iron cuff on my ankle was more noticeable in that moment, the flesh raw and bloody underneath the constraints. I tried not to look down, to pull at my lead, but I couldn’t help it. He was here, and I had to do anything I could to get away.
“Now, now Little Doll…” the voice cooed, jiggling heavy, iron keys in his left hand. I stared at them, almost hypnotised by the allure of freedom. Instinctively I bowed my head, lowering my body to the ground, on all fours, as if praising the man who could grant me my freedom. “That’s a good Little Doll.”
I kept my eyes low, staring at the marbled stone, my life of imprisonment teaching me not to stare into the eyes of my Master if I wanted to ever be let out of the hole. That was what my ‘room’ was, a hole at the bottom of a building I barely knew existed. 3 solid walls of stone, encasing me like a tomb, with one barred gate at the front, the only light and interaction I have ever received. It was cold in the cell, below freezing really. If it had not been for my hot blooded nature I would surely have frozen to death many years ago.
“They want to see you. Who’s a lucky Little Doll?” His familiar voice leered, a slimey kind of noise that crept into my soul and unnerved me to the core. “But first… I need to teach my Little Doll some manners, don’t I?” Those words chilled me to the bone, no matter how hot my skin was to the touch. Fear crept in, my eyes darting from the floor to his aging face, a thick beard framing his pale, flaky lips.
“No…” My voice was small, child-like, not that I had ever seen one, just heard stories of them. I sounded as powerless as I felt. Chained up like a beast in a cell that would be my prison until it became my tomb. Panic settled in me then. I tried to suck in a deep breath, but choked on the stale air I needed to calm my racing heart. No, no, no. The voice inside my head mumbled over and over, a mantra of sorts. Must run, it urged, must be free, free from this man, from this place.
I clenched my fists until my knuckles went white, the pressure calming the nerves that had boiled up from the depths of my desperation. Must run, the voice urged again, more firmly this time. Must run now. I didn’t know what I was thinking. How could I even escape this Hell that my life had always been? But I had to try, or I feared I’d be lost to those four walls for the rest of my miserable existence.
“No!” My voice was still small, but it had a defiance to it that was new to my ears and his. I sprung to my feet then, yanking at the iron shackles on my ankles in the process. It hurt, a lot, but I was determined to be free now, or die trying. “Never again will I be your Little Doll,” I spit the words at my captor, forcing what might I could muster into my defiance. The air around me shifted then, taking form as I willed it so. Something I had learnt all those years ago.
“Little Doll wants a beating, does she?” My captor warned, moving forward to ram the key into lock that held the bars closed between the two of us. He was trying to keep me contained, beat the disobedience out of me, as he always did. But not today. Not today, the voice muttered, and never again. “Not today,” I mirrored the words I heard inside my head, knowing that the time was now.
My eyelids flutter closed as I began to concentrate, controlling the air around me. I gathered it around me, nestling myself in its protection. I heard him gasp then, the iron keys clattering to the floor as the air around him became unbreathable. I didn’t open my eyes, too scared that I would see those blues eyes and crumple under them. Instead I held the air close to me, as tight as I could, before I pushed it forward, releasing a shockwave of energy that burst through the walls around me. Everything exploded in an instant, the power of the energy blowing the walls of my cell outward with ease; my captor too. I heard a loud crash, followed by a chilling crack and wet squelch, my eyes still screwed shut.
I hesitated then, not knowing what would be revealed to me as I opened my eyes, but wanting dearly to be finally released from this nightmare. My eyes didn’t defy me. The walls of my once complete cell were crumbled into rumble, a circle of debris surrounding me. The metal bars too had been blown from their hinges, thrown at the far wall, under which was a bloodied figure that my gaze averted, refusing to acknowledge.
“I did it!” I exclaimed, squealing happily. In that moment I heard the rushing footsteps of people above. Oh no, the voice croaked, they’re coming for me. Must run. I did as it said. I took the keys from the floor, using them to release me from my shackles before I turned and ran through the wall that once stood in my way. I ran and ran, as far as my feet could carry me, and then further still. “I’m free.”