Carnival of Puppets
Megan knew she was naked. She felt the cool, scratcy canvas against her skin first. Then she felt the blood dried in her hair, stiff and smelling too strongly of iron. There must be a lot of blood. She tested moving her arms, but they were numb. Her own body’s weight had pressed them against the unyeilding canvas.
The act of opening her eyes revealed exactly what she already knew. Dark canvas surrounded her, close, her feet drawing the fabric near. She and it hung, gravity tugging and making it impossible to keep her balance or keep still.
Her head ached where he had struck her. It was a pain that originated at the wound above her left ear and echoed behind her eyes, making her feel sick.
For a suffocating moment she panicked, a greater darkness flitting behind her eyes. She needed to breath, but the canvas was everywhere, over her mouth. Her heart pounded. He would hear, she knew it.
Frantically shifting the canvas away from her mouth, she took a few good, solid breaths, though the thick air stunk. She knew she only had a few minutes before he came for her. She only had a few minutes to save her own life. If she failed, there would not be another volunteer.
The rest would be chosen, forced to be his food. The police didn’t care if she succeeded, they had plenty of Scraps they could choose from. They would keep sending the girls from the Heap until one of them survived and managed to escape and lead them back to him.
With trembling, numbed fingers, Megan reached inside her mouth. She caught her fingernail under the edge of the razor she had glued to the roof of her mouth. The glue tore at her skin, and she winced but managed to pull the razor out without causing too much damage.
Her numb fingers slipped on the wet metal, and she fumbled the razor. It fell, cutting her finger and falling towards her feet in the canvas prison. Megan breathed past a cry of terror and frustration.
She tried bending over to reach the razor, but her own weight pulled the canvas taught. Frantically, Megan reached up, grabbed a handful of canvas, and pulled herself up with one hand, loosening the slack on the canvas. Her muscles trembling, Megan used her her bare toes to feel for the razor.
Feeling the cool metal, cutting her skin on it, was a relief. Megan reached down with her hand, pulling the razor up with her toe at the same time. Her muscles shook with the effort and she clenched her teeth. The razor got closer and closer to her hand, until she pushed with a last effort and grabbed it with her fingers.
Megan let out a breath of relief. But she knew she still had a long way to go. She took the razor and stabbed it into the canvas. She dragged it down, the sound of the fabric ripping and bleeding light into her canvas womb.
The canvas was old. She had only intended to tear it a little and then stick her head out and find out how far off the floor she was, but the old fabric tore quickly after she started it. Before she could prevent herself from falling, Megan tumbled out of the canvas prison.
Stomach swooped. Scream tore from her throat.
She struck the cement. She felt a bone in her wrist crack, but she was too shocked to scream. Something in her hip throbbed, and her breath seemed stuck in her lungs.
After a few moments she became aware, through the pain, of her surroundings. Hundreds of canvas-encased bodies hung from the ceiling on wires and ropes. Below them, metal basins caught the blood as it dripped, dripped. It dripped and pooled in the long rectangular basins. It was not red, it was a brownish black. The heavy iron smell was stronger near the floor.
Megan retched, the muscles in her stomach and throat straining. After she was done, she struggled to her feet, spittle dripping from her mouth and tears leaking from her eyes. Her naked legs shook beneath her as she stumbled towards daylight, but her hands clutched the razor steadily. If she met him, she would slit his throat. Just like he had slit her sister’s throat. Except Megan would enjoy it much, much more.