Dead Man Walking….

Your mouth goes dry as you stare at the plaque. It can’t be your name. How does this lunatic know your name? You shift your gaze to the other heads and look at them; really look at them. They’re not real. They’re fake; made of wax or something. They have to be, don’t they? But then you look into their eyes; eyes which are not made of glass; eyes which reflect the horror of what each of them went through.

Where is he? What is he doing? You strain your eyes to extend your peripheral vision, but it doesn’t help. He has bound you too tight; you are not going anywhere. The only thing you can see are the six heads mounted on the wall in front of you. They are all different – different sex; different race; different ages; different eye colour; different hair colour. In fact, they have nothing obvious in common at all, except they are all missing their body….

The body! You feel your heart constrict and a sheen of sweat break out across your skin. What has he done with the bodies? You close your eyes and try and picture the room as it was when you were dragged across it, but you can’t; it is just a blur.

You take a deep breath to try and calm yourself. You need to pull yourself together; you need to think. There has to be a way out of this; there always is – in the films – always. But the films are not my mind, dear reader, and in my mind a happy ending is not a given. You’d be wise to remember that.

Aware that you can’t see beyond your audience, you realise that you need to tap into your other senses; those that may be of use to you – hearing and smell.

You tune into your surroundings, using your second dominant sense. You strain your ears for the slightest sign of movement, but you don’t hear anything. Where can he have gone? You don’t recall hearing him leave, but, then again, you were a bit preoccupied with your new companions. But surely you’d have heard him leave? Surely you’d have heard a door close? Maybe he hasn’t left. Maybe he is standing at the back of the room, watching to see what you do. Maybe he is standing behind you; behind the chair, scalpel in hand, deciding what he is going to do to you.

You feel panic rise within you as this thought takes over your mind, growing in intensity, until all you can see is him looming over you, huge knife in hand, manic look in his eyes. You twist your body, trying to move your limbs; trying to turn around. You have to see what’s behind you; you have to know if he’s there; you have to. But you can’t. The straps hold you firm. All you have succeeded in doing is drawing blood. You feel it as it starts to run down your wrists and your ankles – a warm, thick liquid.

You inhale. Why? Are you seeing if you can smell your own blood? Can you? Doubtful, as you would need to lose considerably more to really smell it. But you do smell blood. Or, should I say, you smell flesh, rotting flesh; the smell that can only come from a body that is decomposing; a body that is putrefying. But how do you know that’s what it is? You’ve never smelt a dead body; you haven’t even seen one. Not in real life, anyway. Yet, somehow you know. Your senses tell you; your body tells you; your mind tells you. What you are smelling is one of your own; one of the six, or, more likely, all of the six.

Is this the way animals can sense when one of their own is dead, dying or even wounded? Is this how they know to leave or, if a predator, to know which is the weakest?

You inhale again, more deeply, gagging at the putrid smell. You are sure you smell something else though; something more familiar; something that reminds you of home. Citrus. Lemon. Bleach. You can’t be sure, but it is something like that; like the kitchen cleaner you use at home.

It is then you hear it. The swish of something being wiped across the floor. It sounds like a backward and forward motion and then it stops and you hear a metallic grating sound and the sound of water draining, followed by a wet slap and then the swishing sound again. Is he mopping the floor?

You buck your body against the metal chair to see if that works. Why? How many times do you have to try the same thing before you realise that the outcome remains the same. You are not getting out of the chair; not until he releases you; not until I release you.

The mopping stops and you hear footsteps moving towards you. You scream as warm fetid breath caresses your ear.

‘Not long now, dearie,’ he whispers and you feel the tip of his tongue trace the outline of your ear. You shudder, swallowing back down the vomit that has finally made its move.

‘Just need to finish cleaning up after Johnny boy and then I’m all yours.’

You drag your gaze back to the display in front of you and scan four of the plaques until you find dear Johnny. You squeeze your eyes shut, to quell your tears and to block out his pre-pubescent features; his innocence; and the look of broken trust, firmly etched into his soft brown eyes.

What the hell is he going to do to me? You ask yourself this, not because of the inevitable outcome, for the empty plaque spells that out for you, loud and clear. You ask yourself this, because there may well be a long and excruciating journey to what you have no doubt will be nirvana.

‘Ready for you now, dearie,’ he says, making you jump. He spins the chair around so you can see the rest of the room; the picture you longed to see earlier, but now? Now you wish he hadn’t shown you. Your bowels release and your heart constricts so tightly, you think you might actually die right there, right then. Oh, how you wish you could.

Before you lies a steel table; an autopsy table. Next to it stands a smaller metal table, adorned with an array of knives and tools. Above the table, suspended on a pulley system, enabling its multiple use, hangs a circular saw, its blade clearly forgotten in the recent clean up.

But it is the device at the foot of the autopsy table that draws your focus; that draws your fear; that draws your revulsion; that draws your reaction. For, you remember, many years ago, hiring one of these yourself; hiring one to dispose of the trees you had cut down to fashion your garden; hiring one of these, with a view to recycling; with a view to making your own bark chip.

May fear protect you when the darkness comes.

Til next time.