Once upon a time, there was a young lady named Emily. After a long day in the house, Emily decided to take her Schwinn for a spin, a long spin.
Emily lived in her house like most people live in their skin. Today, Emily’s house wouldn’t hold her for very long.
Emily was beautiful. She had long, black, wavy hair that shone brightly under the rays of the sun and her eyes were big, lively, round, and as gray as an anime princess. She wore a white sundress with painted posies; she had made it herself.
Emily crossed her fingers, prayed, tapped her foot against the pedal and headed towards the city bridge, Louisiana 47 Waterway.
Emily, with fast-pedaling feet and steady prayer, nosed towards her destination. After hours of travel, she became overwhelmed with exhaustion.
With hours still left to go, she decided to rest at a house that seemed nearly deserted.
There comes a point in one’s venture where it becomes meaningless and even, potentially dangerous. Emily knew this. Emily said this to herself.
Exhaustion thinks and speaks for itself. Exhaustion doesn’t hold hands with logic. Exhaustion led Emily to this house.
Emily parked her bicycle and walked towards the door. She knocked on the door six times, quickly. Emily waited.
”No one is home, apparently,” she thought.
Emily pushed the door open and entered the dark home. She turned on the light; a nude light bulb that hung from a stained ceiling.
Inside, stood three men. Emily rubbed her eyes. The three men stood still. They were grinning. Each one wore the masks of clowns and held weapons. – a shovel, a knife, and some rope. They began to sing.
”Stranger, stranger. Where have you bin’?
We’ve bin’ waiting so, come on in “
Emily could not move. Fear kept her still. Their clown masks were the kind of masks found at a mad circus. Their accents were Cajun and exceedingly slow. Their words hovered and kept her standing in the dreary nether world between the kitchen and the den; Emily’s knees, however, became casual with gravity. She spoke.
”Hi. My name is Emily. I’m sorry for just walking on in but, the door was unlocked. I’ve been riding my bike forever; I was headed to the Waterway.“
She pointed in it’s direction. They listened with their teeth.
”I didn’t think anyone was home. I was tired and hungry. I can go now.“
Two of the men took a step towards Emily. Mice skittered around inside the oven. Ben lunged forward, grabbed Emily, and covered her mouth.
”Welly, well. Where you going, little lady? You ain’t going anywhere. You just got here.” Ben’s voice rumbled. His fat shook as he spoke.
Emily closed her eyes and began to pray.
”Ye’ can pray till the cows come home.” The others laughed and circled her.
Emily opened her eyes to a cross that hung on the wall. It was a cross made from old gnarled trees. Ben, a large mountain man, pressed Emily’s face to the cross.
Mickey locked the door.
”It’s the cross that is most valued. Not, Jesus. — the man who carried all those lambs on his shoulders; the one who got sucked up into heaven to be with a Father that killed him,” Mickey sighed.
”Can we keep her? I’m tired and hungry too!,” Tommy exclaimed with a jump to his step.
Emily’s eyes widened. Her tiny body trembled with fear. Her tongue licked at Ben’s palm as she tried to speak.
”Please let me go. “
Emily’s tongue excited Big Ben.
”Let’s get this one tied to one of those three chairs at the table over yonder. Preferably, the chair fit for a small girl.- Mickey’s stool.“
Tommy, a Huntsman and the size of a Grizzly, ambles over; his right hand full of rope, ” I got this. She sure is a keeper, this one.” His eyes roamed Emily’s body. Ben’s eyes followed. Mickey heaved stink-eye Ben’s way.
Unlike Big Ben, Tommy was a great hunter and fisherman. Always careless with his women but, never careless with a fishing pole, his rope, or his guns. Women were props to occupy the seasons when hobbies were outlawed. Tommy and Ben shared this view, along with their house and weight.
”Nice and tight now. Let her mouth be. The girl said she was hungry. We gots to feed the lady and show her some good ole fashioned southern hospitality,” Ben remarked, cackling like an old chicken.
”Yep, not a problem, Pops,” Tommy smiled, taking Emily from Big Ben. His grip was like the grip of Death.
Emily sucked air. She screamed. Mickey grabbed a handful of her hair to assist Tommy. He chewed on it’s strands while she was forcefully seated and tied to the chair. His breath smelled like dog food.
”Please, don’t do this to me! Let me go!”
Mickey was the smartest of them all. He liked to enter people’s lives like fire. He was thin and had the fingers of a monkey; the back of his hands were ropey with thick blue veins. Though he was the smallest, Big Ben and Tommy looked up to him. So did Emily as he mouthed the strands of her hair.
”Mick’s hungry too,” Tommy grinned, tying Emily’s hands tight behind her back and her ankles to the legs of the chair.
Emily struggled but, the ropes hugged her tightly.
”I’d keep still if I were you, lil miss thang. If you don’t, we may just have to have you for supper,” Ben said, the bulk of his belly pressed to her shoulder. There was humor in the tone of his voice. Big Ben balanced the knife on the edge of her throat; it’s glint blurred her field of vision.
Emily’s breath stuttered. She was lost from her tongue and lips. The blade whispered to her.
Mickey’s mouth relinquished the sticky strands of Emily’s hair. He opened his fly.
”I’ve got something you can eat.” The head of his flesh kissed her cheek. Then, her lips. Finally, the back of her throat. His mask of meanness smothered her from above; his hips picked up speed.
Tommy and Ben looked on. Tommy had his hand between his heavy legs.
”Feed her. Better than clam chowder,” Tommy squeaked like a man that was watching his son kill his first deer.
Time passed. Emily’s hunger passed as all three men took turns filling her tummy.
The masked men collapsed to a sprawled position on the floor. The floor creaked with all it’s flaw and all their weight. Their heavy breathing and sprawled positions suggested maybe they were finished with Emily.
The summer day was withering. Soon, it would be dark. Emily could hear strange sounds coming from all around the house. With a great concentration and will, she thought, she could rip an arm free. Then, a leg and run away.
”Where would I run to? Upstairs. That’s where. I could jump out of one of the windows I had seen.“
Emily’s back was stuck to the chair. She prayed and managed to free herself.
”The work of the Man watching over me,” she sighed, moving sideways fast like a human fly.
Emily ran for the stairs. The clowns followed.
”Git’ her! She’s trying to get away! There! Up there!,” Ben cried hysterically as if his foot just slipped the mountain top.
”Outside and start diggin’ that hole, Pops!” Tommy yelled, pointing a finger to the outside.
Mickey took his time climbing the stairs. He knew Emily wasn’t going to escape. He had nailed all the windows shut.
”Under the apple tree!” Tommy added, throwing Big Ben the shovel.
Big Ben threw the knife to Tommy, “Skin it like a red-headed step child.“
Tommy laughed and caught the knife’s leather handle.
Emily scurried around the loft upstairs. She was looking for a place to hide. She had the choice of three different-sized beds. She chose the last, the smallest, and slid under it.
Tommy and Mickey entered, their voices like the sound of pained cats in heat. They sang.
“Lil lady, Lil lady, you can’t hide.
We’re all ’round. Even, outside.”
As they sang, they checked the beds Emily was not under. Then, the last. They could see the heel of her shoe. Short silence distanced Emily from the men. Their song came faintly through the cracks of Emily’s fingers that cupped her ears.
The song stopped and Emily began to sob hysterically.
”Please don’t hurt me anymore. Let me go and I won’t tell a single soul about any of you or this house.“
Tommy and Mickey stayed quiet for two whole minutes, digesting the startling bit of information; Emily’s cries.
”That’s right you ain’t. There ain’t anyone to tell ’round these parts.”
Tommy nodded, his fat jowls waggling.
Mickey didn’t reply. Instead, there was a harsh noise coming from the stairs. It was Big Ben and his shovel.
”All done, Boss. Hole’s dug.“
Mickey held himself grimly in check. There was no indication that he had just raped Emily’s mouth or what he was about to do to her still.
”Maw must’ve been right. People gawk and pray over a man that’s been nailed to a cross. Like, this one,” he grunted, pulling Emily out from under the bed.
”I don’t buy it. — Resurrection and savin’ — the whole bit. When you die, you die. That’s it. There ain’t anyone going to save anyone from harm or death. In this world, ye’r either alive or you are fucking dead.”
His voice sounded angry.
The grip Mickey had on Emily’s ankle was angrier.
Mickey turned his head and looked over at Tommy.
”Go fetch me a hammer and some nails. I’m going to nail this pretty thang to the floor.” He spread Emily’s legs; her knobby knees shook and trembled. Emily was shackled by fear, chains so heavy, she could not even move a word.
Tommy left for the Den and grabbed a hammer and some rusty old nails. He excitedly ran back for the loft, skipping every other step of the staircase.
Tommy handed Mickey the tools and Mickey began nailing Emily’s tiny wrists and ankles to the floor.
”Spread like butter on bread,” Big Ben chuckled, sat, and poured breath over Emily’s face. Emily’s agony robbed her of any doubt that it would be the last.
With his knife that he sportingly highlighted, Tommy cut and sliced away the dress from Emily’s body.
”She’s as flat as a pancake,” Tommy exclaimed wildly. He was visibly hard under his dirty jeans.
”I bet you’ll be as soft and as gentle as a little lamb,” Mickey said mildly, looking down into Emily’s tear-filled eyes.
Emily was naked. Bleeding. Her eyes looked up at Mickey, through Mickey, and past Mickey.
Mickey dropped his pants. Inside Emily, he would feel like a knife.
He felt like a knife.
Repeatedly, he raped and killed every part of Emily.
Satisfied, the two men gathered their tools. Mickey dressed. They slid down the rails of the staircase. They walked outside and tossed their tools inside the hole Big Ben had dug.
Emily would never return. Emily would never see that Waterway or the light of day again.
BIO: Gina Marie Slade is telling the tales that no one wants to hear and is also, a featured attraction on The Carnival Noir