A Study in Textures

Prompt Day #135: Describe a surprising encounter with the texture of bone through a blind person’s eyes.

I always feel like I should warn you when I go outside of my own comfort zone. When I write something sick and squirm-inducing or something likely to draw some guttural response from you, my precious readers. So, there’s your warning. Just to add a little extra challenge and gore to this one, I read this prompt literally….you’ll see what I mean, if you’ve got the gumption to read on.

A Study in Textures

 When Holly awoke, the only thing familiar was the complete darkness. The smell, the sounds, the feel of the space was all wrong. She had no idea where she was or how she had come to this strange place.

“D’artagnan” she called out in a panicked whisper. Where was he? He was specifically trained to never leave her side. If he wasn’t here, something terrible had happened to them. She had to think. What was the last thing she remembered?

Yesterday. Yesterday she had left the apartment with D’artagnan but why? Where were they going? She was panicking. She needed to calm down, clear her mind. She took a deep breath. She stood up, pain shot through the right side of her head. She dropped back down. The floor was cold and uneven. She ran her hand along it. Stone. She crawled on her hands and knees, sweeping her right arm back and forth in arcs in front of her until her fingers brushed against a wall. She slid up against it.

Ok. Now, follow the wall. Assess the size of the room, find the doors and windows. Make a grid layout in your head. This was her technique, learned early in life when her retinas failed. The colors and light slowly faded away leaving only blackness. She began to move again, keeping her right hand against the damp stucco walls. Every couple feet she would stand, using the wall as support and reach up as high as she could. She reached the first corner without finding a door or window.

“D’artie!” she called out, louder this time. Silence answered her. She listened for clues to the environment outside the stone building in which she had found herself. No car horns or the cacophony that would lead her to believe she was close to her apartment in the city. She thought she heard a bird call but that may have been her mind playing tricks on her. Still, something about the moist, vegetative smell of the air told her she was in the woods, deep enough not to hear sounds of a nearby road.

She reached the next corner unrewarded and continued on.

The post office. That was where she and D’Artagnan had gone first. They called to tell her there was a package waiting for her and since it was one of the first nice days of spring, they’d decided to walk the six blocks to pick it up.

A window. In the middle of the third wall. She felt its perimeter. A single pane, sliding glass window. She felt for the lock, flipped it counterclockwise and pushed. It didn’t budge. She tried again putting all her weight behind it. Her head felt as if it would explode. She let go of the window and grabbed her head between her hands. There was something dried on her skin near her temple. She examined it running her fingers into her hair she found a clotted mass stuck in her hair. She picked it out. It was sticky. She smelled it. Metallic—blood. Her head was sore beneath the clot and there was a large goose egg. She’d been hit with something. She might even have a fracture; it was exquisitely tender.

“Beautiful dog you got there” A man’s voice said as they stood in line to get the new braille keyboard she’d ordered for her display board. She remembered thanking him and telling him D’artagnan’s name when he asked. But then it was her turn and she’d picked up her box, bid him good day and left….hadn’t she?

No more windows on that wall or the next. Based on a basic four walled room, she should be back to the wall she had started with and by default, the wall with the door. She quickened her inspection. She found the door without a doorknob. The hole where the knob should be had been duct taped. She ripped it off and put her fingers into the empty space. She pushed and pulled but there was no movement. Further palpation of the inside of the circle revealed that the door had been nailed shut. She could feel the head of a large nail angled inward on the top side of the hole and another on the bottom side. She pulled on them using her finger nails. She knew it was futile, but she didn’t know what else to do.

Find a piece of furniture or anything in the room and break the window.

“Hey there! Uh, Three Musketeers dog lady.” She was already a block closer to home when she heard the voice calling out to her. She stopped. D’Artagnan halted obediently. She could feel the vibration of his tail wagging. It made her feel better to know that D’art saw nothing suspicious in this stranger. She could hear him jogging up behind them.

“Can I help you? I could carry your package for you.” He said. She imagined that he was probably early thirties maybe five years older than she. But she wasn’t so young that she would make the mistake of letting a stranger walk her right to her home where she lived alone.

“Oh, thanks, but no. I’m meeting my boyfriend for lunch, he can help me.” She lied.

“Yeah, of course. Of course a nice girl like you has a boyfriend. Sorry. Well, it was nice to meet you…” he paused expectantly. She hesitated and then decided giving him her name wouldn’t hurt. She held out her hand.

“Holly”

“Holly. Nice to meet you. I’m Jeff.” He said pumping her hand up and down just once before letting go. His hands were thick and doughy but rough. He did a lot of work with his hands. “And you too D’artagnon.” Jeff said and scratched the retriever behind the ears. “I hope to see you around again.” He said. She heard him walking away, ahead of her but in the same direction she was going.

She had started the back and forth wall to parallel wall. Forming the grid in her mind. So far it was the easiest grid she’d ever done. The room was bare. On her way back to the wall with the useless door, she stepped on what at first felt like the edge of a throw rug. But the small elevation didn’t plateau rather her foot slid right off it. She reached down tentatively and felt the recognizable shape of D’art’s tail.

“D’art?” she asked, her voice cracking under the strain of what she knew she was about to discover. Still she ran her hand up his backside. Her fingers slipping into his thick comforting hair. His body was firm and cold. She knew he was dead even before her fingers dropped suddenly into a concavity in the side of his skull. She felt his ear dangling on the edge of this newly formed canyon. A thick molasses like fluid covered his face and neck.

“No, D’artie, No” She said. She was crying but these tears were more than sadness. They were pain, fear, and anger. They burned her skin. Her emotions impregnated her throat threatening to choke her if she didn’t gain control. She didn’t have time to think anymore. She had to act. She pulled her shoes off, shoved her hands into each like boxing gloves and punched out the window.

Gently, she checked for shards that could be problematic for her as she crawled out. Not finding any. She leaned out and stretched her arm down hoping to feel ground. No luck. She dropped a shoe and listened. It hit the ground quickly after the drop. She estimated the window to be about four to five feet from the ground. She swung her feet out first and jumped.

The sound when she hit the ground echoed in her memory. She was working her key in the lock when she heard D’art’s low growl. She turned to ask him what was wrong when she heard the thud just before everything went black.

She was running. The swampy ground of spring thaw squished around her feet sucking at them. It was icy cold and son, her frozen feet were numb. She ran with her hands outstretched, weaving back and forth like a boxer, dodging branches as best she could. She picked her feet up as she ran, trying to avoid tripping on any downed limbs or embedded rocks.

She tripped. In her haste and without the advantage of seeing the fall coming, she dove forward more than fell. An icepick stab of pain bee-lined into her brain. She was lying on a pile of sharp chunks of not wood, not rock. She reached up and touched the object protruding from her right eyeball. Warm, watery liquid ran down her face. She imagined her eyeball slowly deflating. The pain burned deep inside her. The finger-like penetrating object was flat and triangular. She pulled at it gingerly afraid she would pull her eye out with it. As the piece slid out of her eye, its rough edge grated pieced of lens and cornea, leaving a small flap that slapped back on her eye with a wet kissing sound when the whole piece came out.

She ran her fingers over it. One side was smoother that the others. It was hard but not like a rock. The smoothness was not perfect in it polished surface. It had an organic feel. The rough side brought to mind the air filled sponge candy her mother used to make. She remembered how she’d sucked on it until the fine mesh architecture collapsed and dissolved onto her tongue. She smelled it. It smelled smoky, burnt. She absentmindedly wiped her wet right eye with the back of her hand. That piece flapped again. Her eye throbbed in protest. The searing pain was gone at least, now it just felt as if she’d rubbed a handful of sand into it. It was annoying but she could live with it until she could get out of this situation.

She reached her hands out again and scooped up the bits in the pile in front of her and sniffed. Whatever it was had been burnt in a fire. She felt behind her for the thing that tripped her. She laid her hand on something smooth and warm. A foot. It wasn’t moving though and she couldn’t pick it up.

“I see you found my compost pile” A familiar male voice said. He was standing right behind her. She heard a thump and the tinkling of the pieces in the pile being disrupted.

“There’s your musketeer. He wasn’t much of a hero I’m afraid.” The man said.

“Please let me go” Holly said.

“You know what’s ironic? You’re the first girl to come to the pile voluntarily and you found it without even looking.” He laughed at his own sophomoric joke.

“Please. I can’t ever identify you. You’re safe to let me go” She begged.

“I ain’t afraid of you telling on me.” He said. She felt his hand smoothing her hair back. “I do this because I like it, pure and simple.” He pulled her bangs back away from her forehead. “Jesus, Holly. What the fuck did you do to your eye? I mean it was scary enough before you impaled it with a piece of bone.”

It was bone. Chunks and chunks of bone. He’s done this before. Many times.

“Man, back when they were just kind of creepy, I could have pretended you had some mystical power like Storm from the X-men. But now, it’s all red and swollen and seeping pink jelly. Ugh, I’ll never get a boner now.” She heard him walk off to her right. Was he going to let her go? She listened. If that’s what it took, she’d be willing to stab her other eye too. She wasn’t using them. If it was going to gross him out….

Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud motor. She heard him coming back. She grabbed the biggest sliver of bone she could get and palmed it. He walked past her. She heard his foot slide in the bone pile as he picked D’artagnan’s body up. He grunted under the dead weight of the dog. She stayed perfectly still.

She heard the sound of the motor change and then it was raining, no hailing pieces of dog all around her. A furry chunk hit her on the cheek, another piece landed in her hair. She screamed. She ran towards him with the sharp piece of some other unfortunate girl’s body. She had no idea if she was even going to make contact. But her fear and rage had taken over. She was in survival mode and she chose fight rather than flight.

The man who had just put her sweet boy through a wood chipper scooped her up easily. She kicked and punched. She stabbed him over and over at the base of the neck, downward into his lung and blood vessels. He staggered. Her back slammed into the lip of the input side of the chipper. She screamed and brought the bone blade up higher, slashing at his face. He was grunting, panting. A wheezing noise was coming from a wide tear in his chest. With the last of his strength, he lifted her up and over the edge. She bent her knees and caught the opposite side of the “In-Chute” with her toes. She jerked him forward. He fell against the chute. She ran her hands down his back and grabbed the belt loops on his jeans. She squatted on top of the machine and pulled up and in. He tried to scream but he couldn’t pull in enough air. He just wheezed louder.

Holly’s knuckles strained white and she felt the material of his jeans start to give as she pulled harder. If the pants ripped he would fall back out and she wasn’t sure how badly she’d hurt him. She suspected she’d punctured a lung, but that’s all she knew.

“Please” she begged no one in particular. And then, as if in answer to her vague prayer, she felt the rotating blades make purchase on his head, she felt the vibrations of the machine change as it chewed down on bones and brain. She heard the wet splatter of thick organic rain falling behind her. She let go and slid to the side and off the machine.

She used his legs still sticking out of the chipper to guide herself around the dangerous machine. When her hands fell upon those warm boots she pulled them off his feet and put them on her own. She started back in the direction she thought she’d come from. Assuming there would be a road somewhere around the house. She tripped over the same thing that she’s tripped over coming into the clearing. She reached down, patting the ground until her hand came into contact with someone else’s hand. This one though was quite dead. Its long spindly fingers reaching out from the end of a disembodied arm. She picked it up. Standing up, she used the arm to sweep out in front of her as she made her way back to the stone cottage and onto a rough gravel road which she hoped would lead to the even pavement of the city she knew.

 

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