“Vicious Cycle” by Morgan Turnbaugh

I awoke in my bed and tried to remove the covers. My arms wouldn’t move. I tried to kick the sheets off. My legs wouldn’t move. I opened my eyes. It was still dark. I tried to scream out for help but I couldn’t make a sound. All I could hear was the sound of my own heart pounding against my chest. The last thing I could remember was laughing and enjoying dinner with my wife.

A few hours passed and I had slowly begun to regain what little senses I still had. There was a distinct scent of death lingering in the air. I could hear agonizing screams from a distance. Every ounce of their strength was channelled into their lungs to perform their last call for help as their cries quickly turned from screeching to gurgling.

I heard a large iron slam mere inches in front of me. The echoing of the sound was deafening. I was either in front of a door or the place I was in was extremely compact. I could only make out a very faint hint of what seemed to be footsteps, which were then followed by metallic objects being rustled around behind me. Low frequency rumblings were inside my head coupled with a hot breath on my neck. I was grabbed by my hair and forced to make a nodding motion, as if I was forcibly agreeing to something.

I awoke with my consciousness intact and an extremely horrendous headache. The last thing I remember was a sharp spike of pain in my forearm and a delicate hand in my hair. I immediately looked down and noticed my arm was matted in dry blood. I slowly lifted my head up to see a door barricaded with multiple, complex locks. A large shadow had fallen over me from behind and I knew I wasn’t alone here.

The figureless shadow loomed over me. Trench coat, gasmask, gloves, boots; it was clear whoever this was, they did not reveal any hints as to who, or what, they were. The person moved behind me and began going through what I could only think of as their tools of destruction. I heard concentrated fire right behind me, then I felt a tiny, yet scorching, object pressed on the back of my neck. It felt like a brand of some sort, I screamed out in pain and subsided as swiftly as the object had come and gone.

After enduring endless hours of excruciating pain, I came to my senses again. It made me sad to realize I had become accustomed to this torture for what seemed to be an eternity. The air in the room was thick and heavy. My body convulsed and threw me from the chair onto the ground. It suddenly struck me as hard as I hit the ground; the door was open and my shackles had been lifted. Was this all a game for my captor? I mustered every ounce of strength in my body to try and bring myself to my feet. Everything seemed fine until I put my weight on my right foot. The tendon allowing my foot to move had been severed. I moved to my left; it still worked. Whoever this person was, they had either given me a chance to live or this was their hunting game.

I hobbled over to the table behind me on my left leg. It was apparent what tool I was supposed to take. All that was left for me was a bladeless chainsaw. I used the weapon as a crutch to hold me up while I looked for an exit. The corridors were dark and grungy, the only light bestowed upon me were flickering lightbulbs above my path. I looked into every room as I passed by it. Dead bodies in every room; dismembered, gutted, gouged, burnt, mutilated. It seems I had been poisoned and brought to these torture chambers and everybody was given a different harbinger of death.

As I desperately looked for an exit, I began coughing up blood every few minutes. The mask worn by that person earlier must have not only served as a coverup, but as a protection from poison gas that was leaking into my room. This is hopeless, I thought. Obviously, this person has allowed me to run around like a chicken with its head cut off in this dungeon and I was eventually going to fall over only to be brought back and finished off.

All hope seemed to be lost until I stumbled upon a large wooden door. I threw all of my strength into tearing this door down. This devouring darkness was not about to steal my life away. The chainsaw was the key in annihilating this door. The sun burned down on me as I finally reached the outside, but my captor stood as my final blockade to freedom.

I spun my chainsaw around and whacked the mysterious person with the blunt end of my weapon. The eye of the gasmask shattered as they fell to the ground. I took the initiative and threw myself on top of them and felt a strangely slim figure underneath this humongous trench coat. I wrapped my hands around their throat and began squeezing with what little strength I still had. As I strangled this creature, I locked eyes through their shattered gasmask and noticed an icy blue eye staring back. Blood began pouring from my mouth and I hit the ground before I could finish the job.

I awoke in my bed and removed the covers and made my way downstairs for breakfast. My right foot was extremely sore and my neck was on fire. I sat at the table and told my wife all about this awfully surreal bad dream. She looked down at her food, trying to ignore everything I was saying. I rubbed the back of my neck, trying to relieve this burning sensation; I felt the brand from my dream. My heart stopped in its tracks, shock had overtaken my body. I looked up to my wife and met her stare. I knew I had seen those beautiful blue eyes before. I fell to the ground, and then, darkness.

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