Strange Room

old bedI lie still on the lumpy mattress that feels nothing like my own, keeping my eyes closed. I breathe in deeply and slowly, hoping to replicate the sound of myself sleeping. I could never trick my cat into thinking I was still asleep, but maybe the idiots holding me captive aren’t as perceptive.

I can feel the weight of the chains on my wrists and ankles. I open my eyes and there they are. I had hoped, in that fleeting transition between sleeping and waking, that it was all a nightmare.

It wasn’t.

The captivity, the dank brick room, the plate of festering food … it’s all there when I open my eyes. As is the thin, silent person dressed all in black sitting on the wooden chair in the far corner.

On the first day, I spent several hours debating whether there was an actual human in the hooded black outfit. I had almost convinced myself that it was a mannequin—a scarecrow of sorts—put there to scare me into obedience … then it sneezed. Just one short, staccato sound that sent my heart into convulsions of fear.

Now, if I look closely, I can see the slightest rise and fall of shoulders. I call this one “Wolf” because compared to the others, he huffs and puffs.

As best I can tell there are two others who spend time in the chair. They are close enough in height and build for their clothing to make them nearly identical. My time at the poker table has taught me how to spot the most minuscule of tells, though. Aside from “Wolf”, I’ve identified “Click”–who apparently suffers from chronic dry mouth—and “Stench”–who either has a fondness for hard-boiled eggs or carries chunks of sulfur in his pockets.

*7/9/17 prompt: “Three days ago I woke up in a strange room.”

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