(I needed to clear my head and just get something, anything out. This is what came of it.)
The smell of gasoline permeates the air. As a child I used to enjoy catching a faint whiff of the nose wrinkling scent. Now I can think of nothing but finding a way to escape it. My eyes are burning, tears running down my cheeks in steady streams. The inside of my nose is ablaze. It feels as though someone took a blowtorch to my sinus cavities.
Try as I might, I can’t get away from the overwhelming stench. A headache has set in behind my eyes. Part of it is the gasoline. The other part is dehydration. I can’t think of the last time I had a drink of water or tasted anything remotely refreshing. I’d give my left foot for a slice of watermelon straight from the refrigerator.
My wrists are killing me. The smooth nylon rope wrapped around them doesn’t feel as smooth any more. All of my early struggles made the knots tighter. They bite into the soft inside of my wrists, at times cutting off the blood flow until my fingertips are numb and blue. I’m afraid that if it keeps up, the next time I pass out the tip of one of my fingers will have fallen off.
The dirty rag strapped across my mouth finally lost that lingering taste of motor oil. I almost miss the taste, it had served as a good distraction from the gasoline. God, that gasoline.
It covers the entire floor. The hem of my jeans is soaked in the pungent fluid. I would move my feet out of the way, but I have yet to manage to loosen the ropes on my ankles enough to raise them. There is a bar across the bottom of the chair legs. If I could just get my feet up on that I wouldn’t be a wick for the gas as it looked for something to soak into.
Footsteps echoing on the other side of the warehouse. The pace is off. This isn’t the same person that had been visiting after every time I passed out and came to. The steps are sharper, quicker. The click clack of the woman’s high heeled shoes give me a fleeting hope that my savior has come.
She steps into my tear-blurred vision and I have to squint to make out any of her facial features. Her dark brown hair blends in with the twilight shadows lingering behind her. The blue suit matches the shade of her eyes nearly perfectly. This woman would be stunning except for the mangled scar running down across the left side of her lips.
The cold look in her eyes matches that scar. This is my true captor. I can see it in the disgust chasing across her features. If I could talk her into a hand of poker, I’d surely win. She can’t keep her emotions in check. I can use this to my benefit. Finally an upper hand.
“I thought you said she was beautiful, Pedro.” She steps closer. The scent of her perfume is a sharp and welcomed contrast to the gasoline. “There is nothing beautiful about her. If I wanted a simple girl next door I would have kidnapped some girl from a shopping mall.”
“I found who you wanted, Madam. She fits your description perfectly.” A rough hand digs into my hair, jerking my head back suddenly. “The bone structure is perfect. You are being picky and that is a luxury we do not have right now.”
The woman gave a snort then those chilling eyes found me again. I felt like a thanksgiving turkey as she looked me over. The conversation around me made no sense, but I couldn’t ask for clarification. Not with the gag in my mouth.
“Fine, she will have to do. Make it quick, Charles said he spotted police circling around the neighborhood.” One of her perfectly manicured hands came at me slowly. I braced, waiting for her to hit me. Instead she caressed my cheek, letting her fingertips slide down until she could trace the unblemished line of my lips. Her fingers lingered right where her face was ruined and a light bulb went off in my head.
No. No, they couldn’t be considering… That was preposterous. Only villains in cheesy action movies even considered stealing faces to reinvent themselves.
I couldn’t help it. I had to fight. Jerking my head to the side, I put as much distance between myself and the woman’s hand as possible. Suddenly I didn’t want her touching me. My face felt like there were ants crawling on it where her fingertips had been. It was disgusting. I was disgusting. The woman in front of me was not only disgusting but utterly terrifying.
Her eyes lit up with uncontrolled rage and this time I knew the blow was coming. The same hand that had touched me with such care became hard as a brick when it smashed into my jaw. Bells went off in my head and my vision swam with black spots. The headache I had been suffering exploded. I swore that my head was going to fall off. It was close enough to the truth if the woman went along with her plan.
“You may think yourself brave now, girl, but you are nothing, nothing.” She spit that last word into my face. I could smell peppermint on her breath.
“That is enough, Madam. Any more damage and she will be too swollen for the extraction.” The man behind me moved into view and put himself between us. For a brief moment I was thankful but it didn’t last long.
“Just get it over with. Burn everything when you are finished. I want nothing to come back to us after this small matter is over with.”
The man nodded. He reached up and tentatively caressed the woman’s cheek. It was strangely similar to the way she had touched me. I felt like I was spying on a terribly intimate moment. Only there was no escaping the uncomfortable feeling of it all. I was their captive. They could do anything to me and in front of me that they wanted. All I could do was sit and watch.
“You go wait outside. I don’t want you witnessing the horrible things I must do in your lovely name.” He leaned in and gave the scar across her lips a gentle kiss. The woman cringed and stepped back without returning the kiss. Her hand covered the scar, it seemed like an awfully old habit.
“Don’t do that.” She tossed me another glare then stomped out, her shoes sloshing and clacking through the massive puddle of gasoline.
A flash of a knife caught my attention. It cut through the air and found a home just at my hair line. The pain drove more tears from my eyes. Blackness swarmed in at the edges of my vision. All was lost now. I was just another pretty face to be used by whoever had the most power.