The Ride to Oblivion
It was not like I didn’t panic. I did. Anyone would. Once I came around my senses, I realized that I was being thrown wildly about in the back of a speeding vehicle which appeared quite roomy but I couldn’t really see the details of the vehicle. My pupils were perhaps dilated enormously and the results they gave, was something like looking through a foggy window. My hands were tied but luckily my mouth wasn’t taped. The heart within did a sudden flip and then it started knocking against my ribs with such great force that I gasped for air. It was perhaps because of the chemical I had inhaled earlier, my mind wasn’t going along with the rest of my body. While my heart somersaulted away inside, trying to warn me, my brain went into slow motion. I couldn’t really understand the crux of the situation. Sweat broke out profusely tickling my face as it ran down from the forehead. “Hello? Where are you taking me? Who are you?” was what I meant to cry out. Instead, a series of jumbled words tumbled out of my mouth and I realized that my tongue had gone into slow motion too.
The car slowed down to a halt. He who was driving the vehicle had heard me because I heard him. I tried to sit up but completely failed. Then the door opened and a pair of hands pulled my legs with a jerk, held my hands and pulled me up hard and fast. The fog inside my head still hadn’t cleared and I just couldn’t come close to reading that face. I tried to talk, yell, growl whatever I could, to make noise but my efforts were responded by a cold snigger. The next thing I felt was the mouth of a bottle being thrust into my mouth and no matter how hard I tried to resist, he let the ice cold water spill over. It was water. Thank God it was water! Then I drank. I drank like never before.
I now saw that the person who had managed to abduct all of my substantial weight plus book and all, was an underfed young man with dark shadows under his eyes. I belong to the club of well fed young girls. I never really quite understood the mechanics of starving and making oneself as thin as a needle and I quietly pitied him for having to carry all of me plus a voluminous book that now sat on my lap. I looked at him and suddenly I was no longer afraid. He seemed more afraid and jumpy than I actually was. The road ahead stretched out inevitably as he drove like a lunatic. From the fast moving open landscape, and narrow stone walls that blurred out due to the speed at which we were going, and from the warm golden evening light spread generously over the sparse ground, I knew we were on Öland, the island just outside Kalmar. I knew it was Öland because it is widely said and believed that there is no such light anywhere else in the country. Although it is the light of the dying sun, here on this island, it shines with all its might like Kind Midas’ touch turning everything into gold even as the day gives into darkness, and that itself is a sight to treasure, I could tell even with the uncertainty of what my life held from then on.
* * *
“Wh-wh-who are you?” I let out a tiny yelp as the giant black bird-man stood on the roof of the vehicle with enormous bird wings folded behind him and glared down at me. Nothing about him looked human other than the body. His large pointed beak which also glistened black looked like they could rip out every bit of flesh attached to any bone and those eyes. Those eyes that reflected fiery orange was way too strong for me to stare into for long.
“Do you want to get away from here alive or do i have to gouge those eyes out and slit your mouth open from ear to ear to make you obey me?”
The voice filled all the spaces in my head with such a grating noise that my head felt like it was on fire. As he spoke inside my head, he unfurled one of his wings to show hard pointed bone-like extensions that still had dried blood on its tips. All I could think of was, one lethal embrace with those jagged pointed bony needles tearing my nerves and ligaments sinking its way into me, sucking the breath out of me forever. I shuddered and pushed myself further backwards on my elbows.
Fear stricken, I lay on the ground, stuck in that position for so long that it hurt to try to move. Grimacing and wincing, I lay on my side on the dusty ground and tried to stretch my bent elbows. Cramps shot through my muscles and I cursed. I usually cursed out loud when I was angry but given to the situation I faced, I couldn’t find the voice to do that. I couldn’t find the courage to shout, for who knew what was waiting for me on the other side of the vehicle? Very slowly I fumbled myself back up on my two feet. Silence still prevailed. Darkness had descended quite suddenly and I realized that I couldn’t see a thing. I reached for the door of the vehicle and was just about to climb in when I heard a coughing on the other side of the vehicle. My heart did that somersault again and this time my brain jumped inside my head too. I paused with my right hand still on the handle of the vehicle and listened. Another cough. This one was a gurgling cough as if the throat was heavy with slime. Another cough. Then another and soon the coughing turned into a gagging sound and I couldn’t stop my feet from running involuntarily towards the sound. Reaching the other side of the vehicle, I couldn’t see but I felt a presence, like someone was lying on the ground. Someone who was injured and who was gagging out god knows what just a while ago. For an instance, I did a little dance of jubilation inside because if it was the bird-man, he would bring no more harm to me. The night was as black as pitch and the faint line that I saw in the horizon a while ago had disappeared too. I let my hands feel for the door handle and I tiptoed sideways careful not to tread over the body. The coughing ceased and there was silence again. Perhaps he is dead said a tiny shaky voice inside my ears. I reached for the door handle, pulled it very gently and let the door open just enough to let my hand feel for the compartment where usually a driver would store papers and torchlight and such. Relief shot through me as my fingers encircled a torch light and just as I lit it, a hand closed in on my ankle and pulled me down.
To be continued…