Every breath sends a burning arrow into his brain. In quick succession. Too quick. He tries to calm himself. Something is off. He had woken up to find himself surrounded by impenetrable darkness. He was naked. In isolation that was not a surprise. He had after all left the bar with the prize he had desired.
Cassia. Not his type but irresistibly attractive nonetheless. The mere fact that she was Robert’s girlfriend was enough to mark her as his prey.
Robert. The pathetic geek. Back when they were in school, Robert had always been the teacher’s pet, scoring the best results in exams. The ugly mite with the thick glasses hadn’t been a success with the girls though. That was his forte, his looks and chutzpah had always helped him to outscore Robert with ease when it came to the prettiest girls in sight. Still a virgin at seventeen, since then Robert had gone and become a successful big shot in business. Couldn’t allow money to nullify his good looks advantage, right? So he’d gone and seduced any girlfriend Robert’s success had managed to buy him. Because that’s what it was really, they were in for the money, right? Despite the malevolent gratification he got out of his game he was really doing Robert a favour. What was more important was that he even achieved fame for himself. Paparazzi had photographed him holding hands with a succession of Robert’s ex-girlfriends.
He coughs. Piercing his lungs with an assault of tiny needles. This darkness. This pain. That was not meant to happen. He was meant to wake up in a luxurious bed which enveloped him with the fragrance of roses and lavender, next to Cassia who would melt into his embrace. Now that he has slowed his breathing he smells sewer not roses and lavender, and his naked form feels damp stone not luxurious bed. His testing hands come to rest on what feels like a cardboard box. A sound of something scraping inside it, trying to free itself.
“Hello, is anybody here? Cassia, where are you, are you here?”
“Read what is written on the wall. Anagrams of your fear. Unravel the anagrams, state their source, and the box will remain closed and you will be set free. You have five minutes, no more.” Not Cassia’s voice, Robert’s.
The click of a switch and the wall is illuminated. Dark and moist. Nonsensical words written on it in white chalk.
IRON PAD FOR FIASCOS
INCISOR FOR OAF PADS
DIN FOR PROSAIC OAFS
DOCS FOR FAIR PIANOS
OAF DIP FOR NARCOSIS
ADIOS SCRAP FOR INFO
SCARF FOR POISON AID
PAID INFOS FOR ORCAS
FOOD FOR PANIC AIRS
FAIR POISON FOR CADS
ACID IFS FOR SOPRANO
IRONIC FADS FOR SOAP
PODS FOR CASINO FAIR
COO FOR ASPIRIN FADS
CODA FOR PASSION FIR
OASIS FOR RANCID FOP
POOR FIND FOR CASSIA
Indoors affairs cop? Cold sweat. How many minutes have passed?
“Knew you wouldn’t have enough brains to figure this out. So easy to get you distracted. Put the spotlight on something. Make the letters bold. You’ll fall for it. Time and again. Two minutes left, buddy. Do you even remember the fear you once told me about? Maybe you shouldn’t have confided in me, but there we are. One minute left. Pathetic. You can’t even resolve an anagram when you’re given 17 chances. Open the box!”
The scraping has stopped. Maybe it is all just a joke and it will be safe enough to just play along. Robert is just a pathetic nerd, not a criminal. He rips the box open, and screams.
© Ash N. Finn, 2016