Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Microstory 1703: Apus

I’m going to tell you my story once, and then never mention it again. Every time I look down at my legs, I relive the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had in my life, and I don’t need to keep rehashing that on purpose. Three years ago, I had just pulled into my garage after working late, and was trying to close the door behind me when I heard a grating screeching sound. At the time, the door was very old, because I had just moved in to a quiet town where the regulations were lax, and I hadn’t had time to modernize it. So it had a remote, but the door itself didn’t have any sensors that would automatically lift it back up if it encountered an obstacle. I took my hand off the keys, and looked in my passenger side view mirror to see a figure dressed in all black, holding onto the bottom of that door, preventing it from going down. The strain from this eventually damaged the system, and I guess the motor gave up. I look back on this day often, and wish I had just reversed the car into him. I could have escaped, and none of this would have happened. Of course, I’m not a violent woman. I didn’t know what the masked stranger was going to do to me, but I knew what I was going to do to him, which was nothing. I could only hope that he didn’t hurt me. As you can see, he did. He climbed into my car, smoothly, like he did this sort of thing every day. I slowly tried to reach over to my key again, hoping to push the alarm button, but he reached over just as slowly, and held my hand back. He shook his head, but didn’t speak. He tilted his head down a little, and pointed behind us with his left thumb, indicating that I should back out.

As I was complying with his demand, I scraped the side of my car against the frame of the garage, hoping to alert my neighbors. Choked up, I apologized, and claimed that I was nervous, which he believed, because it was not a lie. I overcompensated, and ran right into my metal trash cans on the other side of the driveway, making even more noise. Still, he believed I was doing my best, and he did not become angry. In the fastest I had ever seen him move, he quickly waved his index finger towards me, which I took to mean that he wanted me to start driving that direction down my street. As I was doing so, he casually reached over, and punched a set of GPS coordinates in my satnav. He didn’t have to search for a place, or even use an address; he knew the numbers by heart. We went far past the edge of town, and onto a gravel road in the woods. We didn’t speak a single word on the way. As far as I could tell, he was mute. We arrived exactly where you would expect someone like him to live; in a dilapidated and unpainted cabin. He pointed to my door, as he was stepping out of the car himself. He never touched me, though. He knew that I knew that I was in deeply unfamiliar territory, and there was nothing I could do to escape. He followed me into the cabin, and pointed to the chair where I was meant to sit, which I found to be bolted to the floor. He had me bind my stomach with rope, as well as a zip tie for my left wrist, before handling my other wrist for me. He dragged a bucket of burning hot coals out of the fire, and towards me. When it got to close, I lifted my legs, but he forced them back down, keeping them there while the coals seared my skin. When they were good and burned, he carried me to the trunk of my own car, and drove me back home. So that is why every wall in my apartment is filled with paintings of birds-of-paradise. Their Latin nickname is Apus, because people once believed that, like me, these magnificent creatures did not have feet.

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