The Ties That Bind
by Libby Faucette
When Angela saw the room for the first time, she vomited on her shoes. Then she cried — great noisy, bawling gasps that threatened to choke her. I watched all this from behind my mask, behind the impassive glass; I watched and listened with an aching heart as she strained against the ropes that bound her. I watched her hunch and squirm, tears rolling down her reddened cheeks to drip on her shirt where ropy strings of vomit had already splattered. Most of it, luckily, had gone on the floor, but she was still a mess — I would have to clean her.
This did not trouble me at all. I did not mind.
Later, when she began to scream at the walls — cursing, pleading, begging her captors to show themselves, to tell her what they wanted — I listened and never faltered. I memorized instead the picture she made, the way her breasts heaved with every breath, the way her hair clung to her neck in sweaty tendrils. She was filthy, and beautiful. Her surroundings only made her more so — the crumbling, peeling paint, the bare dark walls and tiled floor of the derelict Old County Home. Terror has its own psychology; perhaps ghosts enough lingered from those half-mad, long dead, suffering souls to lend my doings the proper atmosphere.
On a more practical note, Angela’s room had an intact observation window. I stood behind it in my cheap, dark mask, watching her cry from the secrecy of my shadows. Her cell had a drain in the floor as well; it would make bathing her a simple task. Best of all, the old asylum — what a wonderful word; it means shelter, you know — was off a private, wooded road and long abandoned. Which meant she was mine; we would be undisturbed.
Angela. Oh, Angela, do not cry.
It was not my first attempt. That was many years ago, when I was a teenager and still living at home. My parents raised hunting dogs. Every few months or so, one of them would whelp and our house would be wriggling with deliriously happy puppies. There is no other animal on earth that exists in such a state of unbridled joy. There is nothing restrained about a puppy, nothing sedate. They squirm with pure delight at being alive.
I put one of those puppies in the freezer.
I did not leave him there — I am not a monster, whatever Angela might think (and she does not know it is me who torments her, so she can think me a monster if she likes). I only left him there for an hour. It might have been closer to half that — I was young, and the young get impatient in ways it is hard for adults to remember — but the intent was an hour. I was reasonably sure he would not suffocate or freeze in so short a time — I didn’t want to hurt him, after all. I simply shut him in, his plump little body resting comfortably on bags of frozen vegetables.
I think he suspected something, as there were none of his usual attempts to lick my face. He stretched out quietly, his expression questioning, but patient, too — as if this were all some unexplained game, and if he only waited, the kind human would make it all clear. His tail thumped twice, soft and unsure, then I closed the door, shutting him away in the dark.
Then I waited. I waited a hopeful hour before going back. The puppy was right where I had left him; his tail thumped again in recognition. I read once that dogs have no concept of time, so how long must that endless, frozen silence have seemed? Yet there was no blame in his soft brown eyes, no recrimination. I scooped him up carefully, his fur so sweetly cold to the touch, and cradled him against my chest, praising and nuzzling him as he immediately squirmed with his usual paroxysm of joy. He was so happy to see me — me, his devil and rescuer in one. I had saved him from the cold and dark, and already he had forgotten my part in putting him there.
I liked being the hero. There is no feeling like it in the world.
I did not think it possible for one woman to hold that many tears: Angela cried the entire time I bathed her. I was frightening, yes, all breathing silence behind the black formless bag of my mask, but my entire plan depends on that uncertainty and terror. And if I was a bit rough in my ministrations, I could be forgiven — as that, too, was a necessary evil.
She screamed and writhed when I untied her from the chair; I left the ropes around her wrists and ankles intact. When I placed her on the floor (none too gently, as she would keep trying to wriggle free), she tried to worm away — which was ridiculous, as her ropes were too tight, and regardless, where would she go? Her screams became pleading sobs when I displayed the scissors in my hand, sobs that became hysterical once I started cutting away her clothes. I removed everything, her underwear as well — that last the most pleasurable in every way, from the perfect, quivering curve of her backside to the slow, torturous drag of the fabric as I slid the scissored remnants from between her thighs. She thought I meant to rape her, but I had no such intent. Not yet (and not in the fashion she no doubt expected). Instead, I turned on the hose and used it to clean her of vomit and grime. She squealed — the water was cold — and started crying again, but I steeled my heart and did the task I had come to do.
When I was finished, I sliced through the cord binding her wrists. Angela gasped and retreated as quickly as she could, scrabbling at the cold, wet floor with hands made awkward and numb. I left her to it, exiting the room as quietly as I had entered, conscious of her disbelieving terror as she marked my anonymous and unexpected departure from the room.
This asylum is a fine and private place, and we have world enough and time.
Once her hands were free, Angela spent a frustrating hour working on the knots at her ankles — knots that had swollen tight from the water I used. Still, she managed it in the end, and I watched from behind my wall of dark glass as she began a whimpering exploration of her room. Her tears had made her face blotch red, but she was still exquisite. Beautiful in her despair — how could I fail to think otherwise, knowing as I did where this terror would lead in the end?
But Angela could not see herself, and I knew she couldn’t see me, or she would have taken far longer to unfold from her naked huddle on the floor. So far, it was the most agreeable task, to stand in my shadowed observatory and caress her with my eyes. I silently worshipped the hint of curls nestled between her legs, the tremor of each rounded breast, her nipples pebble-hard from the room’s dank chill and the remains of her lingering fear. Her limited freedom had calmed her and given her determination, but delectable terror still lurked beneath it all.
I know her expressions so well.
Angela tried my window first, although she could not see me. It was only natural; I had anticipated as much. She picked up her wooden chair and tried smashing it against the glass, but it was lined with wire and doubly reinforced. Frustration made her weep again when the glass refused to break, and at last the chair splintered and broke into pieces.
She followed the walls next. There was just enough light in the room from the battery lamp I had left hanging on a hook by the door. She had enough illumination to circumnavigate the room — and enough to keep me safely faceless in the shadows behind my glass. She crept along the room’s perimeter, dutifully tried the door, and on finding it locked, capped her performance by curling in a corner with tears streaming down her face. She pulled her knees close to her chest and wept like an angel. Later, exhausted, she sagged against the wall and picked at its peeling paint, each tattered strip leaving a dark, ragged wound behind.
She is very close now.
I remind myself that patience is a virtue.
I tried it again a few years after the experiment with the puppy — this time, with the little girl next door. Her name was Jessica, and I had never seen a prettier child. She was the picture definition of cherubic, all plump cheeks and fair skin, with summer-blue eyes and a head full of riotous curls. She was small and golden-beautiful — a miniature Angela. The prelude to what would become my love, my greatest success, was a towheaded trailer park darling.
Jessica liked to play with my brothers, who were both much younger than myself. I was nearly a decade older than them — and therefore largely ignored — but they liked my games. Kidnapping, spy-work, espionage. Superheroes and villains. Fair damsels captured by evil wizards and saved by daring princes. I had a good imagination, and they were always clamoring for more — at least until the day I tried testing my ideas on Jessica.
I tied her up. I had always wanted to do it — not necessarily to her, but to a girl, to fondle her legs and arms as I cinched the ropes tightly around her. I used a pair of jumping ropes, trussing her securely so she could not escape, but not so tightly as to hurt her. I told her to stay on the bed, and promised a prince would be there to rescue her soon.
Then I left the room, shutting the door behind me.
It was hours before I came back. Jessica was crying when I returned.
All the fun had gone out of the game. She wanted to go home. Her arms hurt, she said, and she had to pee. Her mother would want to know where she was. I had a moment of panic then, wondering what would happen when she told her mother what I had done. I untied her quickly, making soothing noises all the while and assuring her that she was being silly, that she hadn’t been there long, that it was only a game and if I had known it would upset her, I never would have asked her to play. Whether because of what I said or the natural secretiveness of children, I believe she never told her parents what had happened. I never heard a word about it from anyone, and Jessica still came over after that to play with my brothers, and with me.
But I never tried my game again; it was too disappointing. I was not her rescuer that day. You cannot fool a child like you can an animal, with all their blind, stupid affection. And I knew, years later, that charming Angela would be harder still. You cannot be both villain and hero to a creature of intelligent emotion — unless they’re a masochist already, and Angela was not.
Still, the best laid plans are always the simplest in the end.
Hours became days, and I raped sweet Angela with plastic.
Drugging her was the easy part; she had to eat and drink. You can purchase items in a common drugstore that will cause an insensible state with no lasting harm. When she was weak and only awake enough for weeping, garbled protests, for a weak flailing of her fists as I reentered the room and crouched before her, loosely clothed to fool her eye and hidden behind my mask, I bound her again, this time forcing her to curl at the waist so I could tie her hands under her thighs. Then I left her, removing myself until she had slept the drugs away.
When I returned, I brought my gift. It was well-oiled, but she fought me regardless, pleading incoherently, sobbing, shrieking, every muscle taut as she struggled to straighten her legs. But the ropes held. I entered her with pliant, molded plastic and began my violation, every cry and moan from her lovely throat bruising and arousing me to the point of pain. I wanted to enter her myself, with fingers and tongue if nothing else, but I could not relinquish the slightest measure of my anonymity. I wanted forever with Angela. I could not let a few moments’ pleasure ruin all I had so carefully planned. I sodomized her as well — I am nothing if not thorough — and all without a sound on my part, the rhythm of those artificial thrusts punctuated with nothing but Angela’s cries.
When I was done, I showed her the knife. I did not harm her with it. I displayed it only, silently turning the blade scant inches before her terrified, tear-filled eyes. Then I withdrew, reveling a bit (I am ashamed to admit) in the ominous picture I presented. I left the room like a departing shadow, Angela’s exhausted sobs following me out the door.
One day more.
When you have dreamed about something, an anticipated ending, for so long that you can recite its script from memory, when every detail and nuance is imprinted in your mind from long examination, finally reaching your goal offers a relief so profound it has weight.
I wandered empty halls, past peeling paint and eyeless windows with rusted iron bars; those windows looked out on the woods surrounding the asylum. I could see Angela’s car parked in the weed-choked gravel drive — my “clue,” as it were. I fed myself panic. Tell a lie often enough and you will find yourself believing it, and I needed to believe it to play a convincing part. I had imagined everything for so long that it felt like walking through a well-loved movie, each echo of my footsteps and the eerie silence conspiring to put me in precisely the right frame of mind. What would another man do in my place? Would he give up the search, spooked by the ruin surrounding him, having convinced himself that Angela, sweet Angela, couldn’t possibly be here? Would he stop and call the police, perhaps? Or would he keep looking?
I wandered, lost, forgetting the way, determined to make it real as I searched each room. I called Angela’s name, allowing the right note of caution to mix with the hope in my voice. Soon I had entered the hall that led to her cell, and suddenly I heard a trembling, disbelieving cry.
“Angela?” I quickened my pace. “Angela, is that you?”
She screamed, her voice cracking with terror and relief. She was babbling my name, leading me on, guiding me to where she was kept. I shouted her name again, breaking into a run. I knew those halls as well as I knew the rooms of my own small house, but I allowed myself to take wrong turns and stumble through empty doorways. Angela was crying, begging me to hurry, but when I found her door, it was locked. A well-placed kick shattered the jamb. The door burst inward and slammed against the wall — and there was Angela, curled naked on the floor and still tightly bound, her face twisted with tears and relief and shame and a deeper, all-abiding fear.
She sobbed brokenly, whispering my name, shaking her head at my horrified questions. Who did this to you? How did you get here? Oh, Angela, babe … I dropped to my knees, my pocket knife in hand, and began sawing through the cords that bound her, wincing at the pressure required, the effort to keep from hurting her more. Once they were gone, she was in my arms, naked and damp and soft. I held her tightly, letting her sob into my shoulder, her body trembling.
“We have to get out of here,” she wept. “That man … he’ll be back…”
I picked her up without trouble, reveling in the feel of her warm, naked weight in my arms. I let her cry, with relief this time — and terror still, for that man could return any moment. She covered her face with her hands while I whispered words to soothe her, my promise that no harm would come to her ever again. I would keep her safe. I am her hero.
And there is no feeling like it in the world.
Copyright © Libby Faucette (2017). All rights reserved.