by Lisa McCourt Hollar
Lorn woke up with a headache. Opening his eyes, he stared up at an unfamiliar ceiling. It looked like it was made of mud and rocks, but without his glasses, Lorn couldn’t make out much more than that. Closing his eyes, he decided he must be hallucinating. He reached for his head to try and ease the thumping behind his skull, but couldn’t move his arms.
“What the hell?” Lifting his head, he squinted his eyes, looking at his surroundings. How much did he drink last night anyway?
There were no windows. The room looked like his Aunt Edith’s storm cellar, with shelves lining the wall and junk scattered all over the place. “Where am I?”
Hearing a groan behind him, Lorn tried to turn, lifting his butt from the bed and twisting his back, but his arms still refused to work. “What…” Lorn turned his head and found himself staring at the rope that bound his arms to a rail on each side of the bed. Not comprehending what he was seeing, his first thought was that Ann Marie and her friends were playing a trick on him, but that didn’t make sense. Anne was mad at him last night, storming out of the bar when she saw Angela kiss him, but he had gone after her to explain that it wasn’t what she thought.
‘What happened after that?’ Lorn searched his foggy memories, knowing that something had to have happened to explain his being tied up. Another moan behind him, this time followed by a soft sob. Trying to turn again, this time Lorn managed to angle his arm slightly behind him. He felt a pull on the shoulder and knew he was dangerously close to dislocating it. He could know see behind him, if he tilted his head and strained his eyes to the side.
“We’re gonna die.” Ann’s voice was filled with fear. Something inside told him she was right, but he wasn’t about to admit that. They were still alive, so there was hope. He just needed to remember what had happened.
“Ann, do you know where we are?”
“In the Devil’s house.”
Lorn rolled his eyes, trying to be patient. Anne Marie came from a deeply religious family, anything bad that happened was attributed to Satan.
“Ann, I don’t see flames surrounding us and the air is rather cool. This isn’t Hell.”
“I didn’t say we were in Hell, I said the Devil’s house.”
“Ann Marie, that doesn’t make any sense…what happened, how did we end up here.”
“Demons brought us here.”
Lorn didn’t argue with her, instead he turned back around, easing the strain on his shoulder and studied the ropes around his wrist. Behind him Ann Marie was sobbing, words quietly spilling from her mouth as she prayed for mercy. Lorn shook his head, recalling that last night she’d been screaming obscenities at him, while she cursed him for his unfaithfulness.
“She kissed me, I didn’t kiss her,” he had protested, shaken by the wrath coming from her small frame.
“I didn’t see you stopping her!”
“I didn’t have a chance, she moved in too fast and then you were there, dumping a pitcher of beer over my head.”
“Liar!” Then she had let loose a long stream of profanity that would have shocked even the most hardened sailor. And something else happened. Lorn closed his eyes, trying to picture the scene. They were behind the bar and something had rattled the dumpster.
“What was that?” Forgetting that she had just damned Lorn to Hell, Ann Marie clutched Lorn’s arm, stepping behind him for protection.
“Probably just a cat.” Despite his assurance, Lorn stepped cautiously towards the dumpster. It probably was just a cat, but there were other, less safer things it could be. He had barely taken two steps, when the trash container rose in the air, sailing across the alley and crashing against the building that sat behind him. Lorn wasn’t sure at first what had caused the dumpster to erupt into the air, but a gaping hole in the ground made him think that perhaps there had been a gas explosion. Movement from the opening caught his eye and he stepped closer, forgetting for a moment the need for caution. Dark, angry eyes rose from the ground, followed by a mouthful of sharp teeth.
“What the hell, Ann run!” Lorn turned, ready to flee the monster, but something caught him from behind, grabbing his feet and knocking him on the ground. His head smashed into the pavement. Then he heard Ann screaming. He felt himself being pulled across the ground and then everything went black.
“What were those things,” Lorn whispered, his memory flooding back. He’d come too briefly. Eyes, vaguely female, but horrifying had been staring at him. Drooling on him.
“Put food thing in storage,” a gravely voice had said.
“He look niiiiice.”
“You can’t have a pet Petunia.”
Were they talking about him? Then everything had gone black again.
A door across the room opened up and a creature stepped in. Severely disfigured, the thing looked feminine, standing over seven feet tall. Her girth spanned three of him and when she saw he was awake, she smiled, showing jagged teeth.
“Good. You awake.”
Lorn stared in horror as she moved towards him, saliva dripping from her mouth. He wasn’t sure what she was, but the word Ogress came to mind.
Behind her a male version entered. He was even bigger than the female. The Ogre reached over Lorn and pulled Ann Marie from the bed, splattering blood in the process. Gagging from the gore that hit him, Lorn realized that Ann had been tied to the bed, similar to his confinement. When the thing had pulled her up, he’d severed her hands from her body. The female laughed, clapping , while the male walked past her, Ann slung over his shoulders, no more than a sack of potatoes. Her mouth hung open, a scream trying to form, but shock had set in. She stared at her arms and the bloody stumps, then at Lorn, her eyes beginning to glaze over. She was dying and Lorn prayed for the first time ever, asking that her death be swift.
The female smiled wider, leaning over Lorn . He pulled back, but tied down, there was no place to go.
“Father says can keep you for pet. I be gentle with you. Not rip head off, like last pet.” Then she left the room. A few minutes later he heard Ann screaming, then her voice cut off. Heavy footsteps headed back his way and the Ogress returned, carrying a bowl.
“I feed pet.” She set it down and lifted Ann Marie’s head out of the bowl. Ripping a chunk of meat from her cheek, she shoved it towards Lorn, expecting him to eat.