“Freedom”

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"Freedom"

Written by Henry Schrader

Entry 1: My new pet is tied up happily in the cellar. Can’t wait to play with it.

 

Entry 2: I set up large bowls of food and water in the cellar. My new pet has been whining a little bit, but I’m sure he’ll get used to it soon. I certainly hope so, anyway.

 

Entry 3: My new pet doesn’t seem very hungry. He didn’t eat or drink a single thing! He better eat soon. I don’t want to have to force feed him.

 

Entry 4: New pet needs a name. Maybe Albert? Yeah, that sounds like a good name. Albert it is. Still no progress with eating. Action must be taken.

 

Entry 5: I’m so happy! Albert finally decided to eat on his own! I didn’t even have to do anything to make him eat! I think he’s finally getting used to it.

 

Ugh. Ooooooh my head… What the hell is going on? I can’t move my arms. My head is killing me. It’s so dark in here. Where am I? There was a small rectangle of light on the floor coming through a tiny window at the top of the wall opposite of me. Why won’t my arms work? God damn it, I need answers! Wait. What was that noise? Somebody was talking to me. A mans voice. “Hey. Albert. You awake little buddy?” Me? Is he talking to me? “Albert? Wake up!” He walked slowly down the stairs. I could hear every telltale creak on every step. I didn’t know what was going on, but I knew that whoever this was coming down the stairs wasn’t a friend. A tall figure at the base of the stairs was staring at me. I couldn’t see anything but a smile. A twisted, evil smile. “Hey little guy. Glad to see you up and at em. I know this is a big adjustment for you, but… try to get used to it huh? If you’re good, maybe I’ll let you stretch your arms a bit. You haven’t eaten anything yet… consider it. For me.” He’s going back up the stairs. Leaving me in this abyss.

 

Entry 6: Albert still isn’t very responsive. I don’t know how to make him feel more comfortable.

 

Entry 7: The little guy finally talked to me! Unfortunately, he isn’t very friendly yet. He’ll get there eventually. He better.

 

Entry 8: I decided I’ll have to try something new with Albert. He’s not responding to anything. He’s tied my hands.

 

Entry 9: Albert is… problematic. I’m going to have to discipline him. I didn’t want to do this, but I have no choice. It’ll be quick, and hopefully he’ll forgive me. It shouldn’t hurt him too much. Just a little startling. I’ll write more after I see results.

 

Entry 10: I think I’ve made a breakthrough with Albert! He’s finally responding how I want him to. He’s following my orders and everything. Maybe he’s finally becoming my friend.

 

Oh, god. This is a living nightmare. My hands were cuffed to the wall. There was a small bowl of dirty grayish-brown water on the floor. Something else was in a bowl to the right of it, but I couldn’t see what it was from my position on the wall. Didn’t matter. I couldn’t reach either of them anyway. I had to do something though. I’m so thirsty. It feels like there’s a wild animal clawing through my stomach. It’s been what, two, three days without food or water? I can’t tell. My only frame of reference for time is the light coming through the window. I’m gonna die down here, aren’t I? I’m gonna die if I don’t reach that water. I might die even if I do. That is clearly not clean water. But I guess it’s my only option. He came down the stairs again. That sick son of a bitch. “Hey Albert, I noticed you haven’t touched your food or water yet. It’s been a few days. You don’t want me to force you to eat, do you?” This bastard. He’s mocking me.

 

“Come on buddy, I know you can do it.” He’s walking toward me. No. Stay away from me. Fuck. FUCK. “You just gotta… stretch a little.” He smiled at me and wrapped his hand around the back of my neck, forcing my head forward. My arms feel like they’re being ripped apart. It’s like I was watching it happen from above my body. I could see my mouth opening to scream in agony. I could see and simultaneously feel my arms distending. There was a loud pop, and suddenly my arms were longer. He ripped my arms out of their sockets. My head nodded forward and my body went limp. I guess I must’ve been out from the pain. One final sickening thought went through my mind before everything went dark, turning my hollow stomach upside down: I’m not dealing with a man. I’m dealing with a monster.

 

Entry 11: My little buddy has been a little quiet recently, but at least he’s finally doing what I say. Maybe he deserves a reward.

 

Entry 12: Albert was whining a little bit today. I think he’s getting a little antsy. I guess I should let him run around a little.

 

Entry 13: I give an inch and he takes a mile. I let Albert run around in the cellar while I was at work, and I come home to see him trying to run out into the yard! I guess some dogs just won’t learn. I’m running out of patience. I had to chain him back to the wall. He bit me, actually. I never thought I’d have to do this, but I guess it’s time to put him down. Vicious dogs must be dealt with. I’ll do it later.

 

Fuck, what happened? My arms… He ripped my arms out of their sockets. I remember that now. God it hurts. Water. Need water. I think I can reach the bowl. No, I have to reach the bowl. That water is vile, but it’s the only way I’m going to survive. I stretched my dislocated arms as far as possible against all instinct. My body screamed at me, telling me not to, but I needed that water. I leaned forward, plunging my face into the filthy water. I gulped the water down greedily, not caring whether or not it was clean. Disgusting. This is torture. The blades of pain shooting through my shoulders pulled me back to the wall. My vision was swimming. I couldn’t take much more. Steeling myself for more shards of agony, I grabbed the other bowl with my teeth and slid it towards myself. What… what is this? Dog food? I didn’t even care. I had been reduced to an animal. I was ravenous. I ate all of it unabashedly. I need to get out of here.

 

“Albert! I’m home! Did you finally eat your dinner?” My face burned with rage. How could somebody subject another person to this horror? “My, my, somebody’s a hungry boy. Don’t worry, I’ll fill your bowls up again. Can you speak for me? You’ll get a treat if you do.” I stared at him spitefully. Fuck this. I will not give in. “Well, I guess if you don’t want to talk, then that’s fine. I’ll check on you tomorrow.” He grabbed the bowls and headed back up the stairs. As I leaned back against the wall, my arms pressed against the sockets that they used to be inside of, shooting lightning all through my arms and back. I promptly threw up on myself, and then passed out.

 

When I woke back up, the bastard was standing over me, staring at me with an intent smiling gaze. I jerked backward reflexively, sending a rolling wave of needles down my arms. “Oh, hey Albert. I was just watching you. You’re adorable when you sleep.” A cold chill ran down my spine. What is he after? What the fuck does he want from me?! “Come on little guy. Do you wanna speak for me now? I really don’t want to force you, but a good doggy really should do as his master says.” Dog? Jesus Christ, he really does think I’m an animal! No. It’s worse. I’m his pet. The realization dawned on me. This sick fuck wanted me to act like his little dog. “Fuck you,” I said. His smile faded a bit. “I do all this work to take care of you, and that’s the first thing you can say to me? Well, fine. No dinner for you tonight. I’ll make you like me. I’ll be back in a second.” He turned around and stomped back up the stairs, clearly upset.

 

The sun shined through the window brightly as he went upstairs. By the time that monster came back, the sun was sending a dull orange light into the cellar. He threw a toolbox on the ground near me, spilling it’s contents on the floor and filling me with a sense of dread. A pipe wrench, an unmarked spray bottle, a bunch of screws, an old rag- I don’t get it. What is he going to do with all these? “Okay, Albert. I didn’t want to discipline you, but you’ve left me no choice. I’ve tried to make friends, but you’re just a bad dog, and bad dogs need to be punished. So pick one: newspaper, or spray bottle?” My breath was caught in my throat. I don’t know what’s in that bottle. I guess the newspaper is the safe bet. “Newspaper,” I managed to whisper. In one fluid motion, he scooped up the wrench and swung it into my nose. There was a sickening crack and an explosion of white hot pain shot through my face. Blood poured out of my shattered nose unrelentingly. My mouth opened involuntarily and the beginnings of my anguished howl were silenced by another brutal strike of the wrench. Various teeth skittered across the ground and down my throat. One final curt chop across my face with the old tool sent fireworks through my head and a spray of blood across the wall. The world had a black haze over it, and I heard the sharp tone of the wrench clanging to the concrete floor.

 

“Mmmmm.” What? Is someone trying to talk to me? “Mmmrr.” I can’t understand them. “Ammrt!” It’s getting clearer. “ALBERT!” My eyes opened halfway and my head was jerked backward by my hair. “Don’t go falling asleep during your discipline training, Albert. The sooner you get through this, the sooner we can go back to being friends.” I couldn’t focus. My head was a dark swirling mass of red hot pokers and needles. “Almost done, Albert. Almost there.” The white spray bottle was eye level now. “Wait… y-you said… pick one,” I mumbled through the torment. He smiled the same evil, hideous grin and said menacingly, “I meant pick which one to do first.” He sprayed the liquid in my face, sending a burst of flame into my wounds. My eyes were orbs of acid, burning in their sockets. Everything reeked of urine. Ammonia? He sprayed ammonia in my eyes. Jesus Christ it hurts! I’m really gonna die down here! Another blast of foul smelling liquid assaulted my senses. And another. And another. After what seemed like an eternity of torture, he cast the spray bottle aside and grabbed me by my throat. Blind, in agony, and not in my right mind, I heard a voice come out of the aether. “Now I’m going to go upstairs and take care of some business. When I come back, you’re gonna follow my orders, right?” I felt my head nod up and down. “Good boy.” Then the world was extinguished.

 

I drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few days, hearing that monster give me orders. Hearing  myself respond like his puppet. When I finally regained control of myself, my arms were laying benignly at my sides. My muddled brain tried to make sense of the scene. What? Why… why am I not cuffed to the wall? I’ve gotta escape! I tried to push myself up from the floor and millions of needles ran up my arms, culminating in a stabbing pain in both shoulders. Oh, right. Dislocated. Fuck. I braced my arms against the ground and pushed until my shoulders popped back into their sockets. A wave of nausea hit me like a freight train. Lights swam in front of my nearly useless eyes and I nearly passed out again. I steeled myself for another try and pushed myself onto my feet, feeling my arms trying to slip back out of their rightful place. I leaned against the wall. My legs were weak and on the verge of collapsing, my head was pounding and broken, and I had a gray haze over my vision. The last thing I remembered was being savagely beaten. I probably have a concussion, the entire front of my skull is shattered, and my eyes seem irreparably damaged. I need to get out of here.

 

I felt along the wall, waiting to find a door or railing that would lead me to freedom. My hands passed through spider webs and over congealed blood stains. My blood stains. Every creak, every noise, anything that could be that monster coming back to finish me off stopped my heart and froze me in place. I nearly tripped over a cord in the wall, causing me to stumble into what seemed like empty paint cans. It’s over. He’s going to kill me. I waited. I waited in the dark cellar for death to come. I waited for more pain. I waited for something. But nothing came. I sat in cruel silence, my heart hammering against the wall of my chest, sending blood pulsing painfully through my head. I started moving again, inch by inch, feeling the grime under my feet. My hands eventually felt the smooth grain of wood in the wall. The door. Please be unlocked. Please. I twisted the old, rusty handle and pulled the door open slowly. It creaked as it it shuddered open, and my legs gave out from neglect and relief. I collapsed on the stairs, exhausted. I couldn’t bring myself back to my feet. I clawed my way up the stairs, my entire body protesting in anguish. As I emerged from the cellar, my ruined eyes detected a vague suggestion of sunlight to my left, and the smell of fresh air permeated the room. The sound of birds chirping brought tears to my eyes. Almost there. Almost.

 

In some other part of the house a lock tumbled loudly into place, and a door swung open. Oh, no. Please no. I’m so close. Please God, help me. I summoned all my strength and crawled toward what I could only assume was a window. My hands found the wall, and I pulled myself up to my feet. I could hear my captor moving toward me. Heading to the cellar, maybe to torture me more. I felt along the wall until my hands ran across an open window with a screen in it. Adrenaline was shooting through me, masking my pain and setting my nerves ablaze. I pushed the screen out, and a loud crack resounded. I ducked under the top of the window, but a hand forcefully grabbed the back of my neck, ripping me away from my chance at freedom. A sharp object was being pushed slowly into the back of my leg. “Tsk, tsk, Albert. I thought we were finally making some progress. You were being such a good boy.” The tendons in the back of my legs were slashed, and I collapsed onto the ground, screaming in misery and pain. I swung my arm backwards blindly and I felt my knuckles connect with his nose. There was a satisfying crack and his grip on my neck released. I grabbed the windowsill and vaulted halfway out the window. Death gripped my legs and pulled me back into the house and something heavy broke over my head. Maybe a vase. Everything was fuzzy and painful as my adrenaline rush was destroyed by a blow to the head.

 

I felt my body being slung over The Reaper’s shoulder as he dragged me back down to the hell that I had been imprisoned in for so long. My arms were cuffed tightly to the wall once again, and I heard his voice float through my broken mind. “I’ll be back for you later. I’m sorry it came to this, but I’ve given you enough chances to be a decent pet. Pets who bite their owners must be put down.” I sat in the dark, waiting in horrible pain for him to come end my life. I was broken. I gave up. Just let the pain end. Please. I don’t care anymore. Just end it. I waited for hours. Maybe days. Time had no meaning. There was only anguish. Eventually I heard The Reaper come back. “Alright, Albert. It’s time to end this. I’ll make it quick.” He had a syringe full of bluish liquid with him. I uttered one final sentence to him, “Thank you. Please end my suffering.” He smiled at me with crazy, bloodshot eyes.

 

“Good dog.”