A tall dark stranger hurls an ax at me. A whole fucking ax, clear across an open field, and it misses two guys standing close by before swiftly lodging itself in the crook of my goddamn neck. I cannot feel it in my flesh. I feel only a thud, the shock of numbness, and fear. The body cannot feel but the blood-curdling shriek of hot panic sears through my entire non-body like a buzz saw.
I pull the heavy weapon from my neck with my own bare hands and fling it as far away from all of us as I can manage with my rather stupidly useless hands. The blood stained blade of steel reflects the blinding sun as it spins off and disappears. As I turn to run, I see my attacker draw an even larger cleaver from nowhere in particular behind him and begin hacking off some very muscular man’s limbs. I run and run as fast as I can from the deep-throated screaming, tall grasses slashing at my legs as I approach a kind of dilapidated building I can’t quite see clearly.
My mouth is paralyzed mute as I continue on toward a door which is blocked by a huddle of frightened looking children, whose eyes are so wild and bodies so filthy they appear almost like animals They do not speak. They do not move. They just watch me. Without slowing down, I stare directly into one as he stares directly back into me and I find myself thinking that eyes that wide can only exist in the possession of innocents.
Finding no obvious way to flee, I am repeating at the top of the lungs of my mind, amidst the deafening sounds of torture both inflicted and endured, Let me out of here, Let me out of here.
Let me out.
Over and over until I finally wake to the quiet darkness of my bedroom. I am warm and still, my breathing normal and slow.
Nightmares are a thing for me lately. I couldn’t tell you why. Shaking, too. Not severe or anything, but some kind of night tremors that catch me off guard. It’s a thing for many people these days, or so I’ve read about here and there. The simple, reckless trauma of living, I suppose.
I watch people living all day long as though it were a breeze. As though it were easy – pleasant, even. As though we were not all being chased by something we can barely understand, let alone control. Trying to break free.
When running from the ax wielding brute, my inner workings latched onto the desperate phrase ‘Let me out of here…’
Not ‘Get me out.’
Let me, let me…
I beg something to let me go, which means it is the same thing that is keeping me in, do you see. I did not pray to a thing I believed could ‘get me out’ – that is to say, I did not reach for a strong, benevolent thing. A thing I trusted would help if it could.
No. I plead with a thing which is actively not helping me escape on purpose.
Blinking slowly into the sleepy, cozy, book-lined, plant-filled room, my vision scans the grainy darkness until I can make out the shadowy shapes of the things I recognize. When the alarm sounds, I rise, put my bare feet on the cool wood floor, tie my hair in a knot and head down for coffee. From horror to laughter to lipstick to traffic to another day I wish could be different in a ten thousand impossible ways.
Captivity is a strange thing. You pace and pace in circles like those beautiful panthers at the zoo and almost don’t feel anything until the panic sets into a place in your psyche nobody wants you to talk about. And when the night and the threats and the danger inevitably set in, you are left begging and pleading only with yourself.