I can’t see.
That was the first thing I noticed. I couldn’t see a damn thing. Darkness pressed in thick around me, a hot, almost irritable blanket of black.
I can’t open my mouth.
This was the second realization. It came slamming into my mind like a bullet from a smoking gun. I willed my lips to part, but couldn’t seem to find them in all that swirling midnight that spun around my head.
I can hear though. Yes…I can hear…something…
I didn’t know why I was allowed this singular sensory, why I was blind, mute, but could still hear. But what did I hear? What was that pitter pattering in the distance? That echo that bounced down a throat of barren hallway? Was that laughing I heard? If I could open my eyes, I would have squinted in concentration, attuning my focus on the noise. Yes…it was laughing.
Children. Children were laughing.
Why were they laughing when I was confined in such an alarming position? What exactly was my position? Where was I? What had happened to me?
To my horror, I discovered that I could not recall. Behind the wall of unconsciousness I had awoken from lay nothing but an empty space of giggling amnesia. Giggling like those children down the hall. It scared me. The children. Their laughter, yes, their laughter scared me.
I felt a wave of dreamlike dizziness wash through me, like something had been removed. Like something had been severed. Like my life had been uprooted and thrown violently into a place I did not belong. Because I certainly did not belong here. Not in this place…this place with the giggling children.
I needed to get away. I needed to find my bearings and escape from whatever this was. I felt like vomiting suddenly, but remembered I couldn’t open my mouth. This would be so much easier if I could see something. If I could call out.
I took stock of my surroundings as best I could. I could still feel, after all. And it felt like I was lying on a table. It was hard and I felt splinters prickle my weathered skin. I braced myself and tried to roll off it, but found that my motor functions had not yet returned. Had I ever had the ability to move? At that moment it didn’t feel like it, a dull ache hovering over my head like a phantom pain. Like I had been struck with something, plunging me into that darkness. The darkness that blocked my memory from reach.
The children were getting closer now. I could hear their little feet running down the hallway, or what I assumed was a hallway, towards me. They chatted excitedly amongst themselves. I tried to pick out threads of conversation, but their voices were lost amidst a canvas of chaos.
Hands then, tiny hands on my face. They prodded and poked, a babble of chatter pouring down over me. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to know what the hell was happening to me. The fingers continued to explore my face and finally, out of the gaggle of prepubescent conversation, I managed to pick out one word.
As this declaration was proclaimed, I felt a stubby finger stab my eye. Or where my eye should have been.
That’s when the panic really began to take hold.
Had these children blinded me while I slept? Who were these little monsters? Where were their parents and why wasn’t anyone talking to me? I felt like a sack of flesh, tossed aside for tomorrow’s play thing.
Before I could process anything else, a sudden, excruciating pillar of agony pierced through my flesh. I tried to scream, tried to buck away, but those little hands held my head in place. They held me still while a sharp, biting knife was plunged into my eye socket. It twisted and dug into my head, a writing snake of fire.
I rocked with searing agony, begged it to be over, howled behind my silenced lips. Why was this happening to me!? What had I done to deserve such torment? If only I could remember, if only I could remember just a single thing!
Finally, mercifully, the knife was removed and I felt a flurry of small fingers poking and prodding my gored eye socket. They were giggling now and exclaiming in loud voices their disgust at the ruin the knife had made.
Before I had time to recover, the knife was plunged into my other socket. The pain was titanic and I roared and shrieked. Or would have if I could find my mouth.
Mentally gasping, I shuddered as the knife was pulled free. I heard a sickening sound accompany the action, like a plunger being pulled from wet shit.
More laughing from the little monsters. They were loving this. They enjoyed my suffering. Parallel to the pain now, was a speeding train of white hot fury. It’s track swerved and zigzagged next to a locomotive of misery and torment that screamed lungful’s of coal black smoke. I needed to breathe. I needed to scream.
And then I blinked again.
Around the halos of fire, I found my eyes and pulled them open through a curtain of gore and torn flesh. I winced and moaned internally as I did so, but I could fucking see!
I looked up and saw a trio of children: two boys and one girl. They couldn’t have been older than six. They smiled down at me with crooked grins. One of the boys had a long knife in his hands, inches from my face.
From its blade dripped long tongues of blood. My blood.
They smiled when they saw me watching them, the little girl clapping her hands excitedly at my awakening. She informed the boys that I looked prettier now.
I could feel my own fluids, my own mangled, ruined flesh. I could feel tatters, ribbons of skin flapping around my eyes. And the burning, oh the fucking burning…
I blinked back trails of blood and as I did so, I saw the little boy raise the knife again. Before I could even react, the child planted the knife directly in my mouth. An electric heat coursed through me with furious urgency and I felt the boy work the blade across my lips. The razor sharp edge sank between my teeth, surged around my gums, and dug deeply into the corners of my mouth, pulling it apart with ease.
And then I screamed. I screamed until the world shook. I gagged on my own blood, buckled under the colossal weight of impossible pain, and trembled beneath the certainty of my own demise.
When the boy finally removed the knife, I lay gasping, a broken, shattered mess. I spat a chunk of my own skin onto the table and shivered violently. Blood dripped down my chin and ran from my eyes and the room vibrated.
“Almost done,” The girl snickered, staring down at me. Her hands became stained with blood as she leaned down and wiggled a tooth that had become lose in the process of my mutilation.
No more, I begged, please no more.
But there was indeed, more.
The boy raised the knife over his head like a judge about to declare the damning verdict. I braced myself and had a split second to whimper before he drove the knife deep into my skull.
I felt something break inside of me and I did not have the strength to cry out. In a daze, a torrent of something beyond pain, I felt the child scalp me. No…he wasn’t just scalping me…he was opening up my skull, scraping a well inside my head, pulling chunks of my mind out in wet handfuls. I felt the open air flow inside my head, a horrible, distant sensation. The little girl helped remove my innards, as did the second boy. Their tiny knuckles scraped along the inside of my skull and I watched with fading awareness as my seeds were formed into a small pile before my eyes.
I was dying and all I could fucking remember were the last seven minutes of my horrific life.
As death took me, I heard the girl’s voice one last time.
“He’s all finished now! Let’s ask mom if we can put him outside on the steps for when the trick-or- treaters come!”