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Water, water everywhere.

by Jasper James McGreavy 11 months ago in psychological · updated 11 months ago
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The water is rising and time is running out...

Shelly was awoken by the gentle lapping of water at her face. She felt dizzy at first, her mind clouded by a dense fog and each of her senses only half working. Slowly, she began to get her bearings.

The first thing she could tell for certain was she was lying on her side on a hard stone floor in a shallow pool of water, which threatened to invade her nose as it splashed against her face. She craned her neck just enough to get her head out of the water. Her neck was stiff and a wave of pain shot through her, emanating from the base of her head. It hurt to hold herself at this angle but it beat drowning.

She tried to continue processing where she was and realised she couldn't see. At first, she thought the room must be pitch black but the feeling of damp cloth on her eyes and tightness around her forehead told her she was blindfolded. A similar feeling around her wrists and ankles told her they were bound too, this time with rough rope. Reality began to set in and panic washed over her. She had been taken; someone had tied her up and left her here for dead - or even worse, planned to come back for her later. Shelly began to hyperventilate but a gag in her mouth caused her to choke instead, turning her heavy breaths into a painful series of coughs and splutters. Terrified of drowning on her own spit she tried to lift her bound hands to remove the gag but found she could not raise them past her knees, held back by a rope that attached them to her ankles. She leant forward in an attempt to get close enough to snag the fabric of the gag and pull it free, but she was stuck short and her freezing fingers grasped only at empty air. The coughing fit passed but she found herself no better off than before.

With great effort, she pushed her bound hands to the ground and angled her body upright with her legs folded together in front of her. The pain in her neck faded as she stopped straining it. The break from the pain gave her time to collect her thoughts. How had she gotten here? She racked her brain and managed to claw a few half-formed images out of the fog.

She was at a restaurant - a nice one - and there was a man. She knows him. At least she thinks she knows him. She must do, right? He was sitting opposite her at the table. He was dressed up. So was she. Was this a date? She didn't usually go on dates. Was this a special occasion? A friend of a friend or a... AN APP. The image of the same man on a phone screen appeared. She had met him on an app. Maybe he could help her? She tried to say something to him, call out to him from across the restaurant table, beg him to come find her. But, of course, she couldn't. This was a memory; all she could do was watch. Still, if this was earlier today then surely he'd know something? Maybe he was already looking for her, maybe help was already on the way? Unless...

Unless he was the one who had taken her. Had he slipped something in her drink? That would explain the brain fog for sure but what of the stinging in the back of her head? It felt like she had been hit from behind. Had she collapsed from a drug and hit herself on the way down? Or had he hit her?

The mind fog took back over and any more memories she had were quickly obscured. Shelly still didn't know how she had gotten here but she had more pressing concerns. As she had been fighting to remember, the water had risen and was now covering her knees. Had she still been laying down she would be drowning by now, a mental image she wished was so easily whisked away by the mind fog as her memory was. It served as a reminder that she couldn't just sit here and hope someone came to save her. If this water continued to rise she was going to need to find her own way out.

First things first, she thought, she was going to need to get her legs free - she couldn't do anything if she couldn't stand - so she lowered her hands down to her ankles and tried to untie the ropes binding them. No luck. The water had swollen the ropes too much and the cold robbed her fingers of any dexterity. She wasn't going to be able to untie these. So she moved on to plan B. She lifted her knees to her chest and then pushed down, sliding her legs out flat and pushing herself backwards. Pain shot up from one of her feet and she nearly collapsed to her side back into the water. She bit down hard on the gag to stop herself from screaming in pain, knowing that doing so would only put her into another loop of coughing and spluttering. She took a few long breaths in through her nose until the pain subsided, then lifted her knees back up and slid her hand down to her feet. She gently patted them until she found the sore spot, which caused another wave of pain to shoot through her. She jerked her hand away, not wanting to hurt herself any further, but even from her brief investigation, she could tell what she needed to know. One of her ankles was broken.

She swallowed hard and braced for the pain then pushed herself backwards again, focusing as much of her weight as she could on her other foot. A small amount of pain still radiated out from the break but nowhere near as much as before, so she repeated the process until she felt a wall on her back. She pushed against it and lifted herself upright, again working to keep the pressure on her good leg. Once standing, the tautness of the rope binding her wrists to her ankles forced her arms straight down. It was a compromising position and her movement was limited, but while standing the water only came partway up her shins, and she felt safer for it. She followed along the wall, hopping to keep her weight off her broken ankle, hoping to find something she could use to get free. She landed on something sharp and let out a muffled yelp as she fell to the ground again.

Unable to soften her fall, she landed face first with a powerful splash and took in a mouthful of water through the gag. She floundered around uselessly in the water, struggling to break to the surface thanks to how she was bound. Her legs kicked and her fingers scratched at the ground as she writhed around below the water. She was sure she was going to die like this: bound and helpless, in a puddle of water even a child could escape. Mercifully, she managed to roll onto her back and sit up, gasping for air and coughing on her gag as water leaked out of her mouth and nose. It was far deeper than it had been the last time she had been sitting. The room was very clearly filling up and seemed to do so faster and faster as time went on.

Shelly panted as her panic from almost drowning faded and she was able to think clearly again. She lifted her knees back to her chest and slid her hand under her good foot - which now felt significantly less 'good' - to feel what had cut her. Her fingers brushed past a sharp object lodged deep into the sole. She grasped it as best she could between her thumb and forefinger and pulled it out. It hurt a lot and she removed it slowly, which only served to exacerbate the pain but she was afraid if she pulled too fast she would lose her grip and send it flying into the room, waiting to be stood on again. With a sigh of relief she pulled it free of her foot and the stabbing pain it had caused faded into a gentle sting.

She held the object in front of her and turned it over in both hands. A small metal rectangle with edges sharp enough to cut at even the gentlest touch. Although she couldn't see it, she knew exactly what it was: a razor blade - the exact tool she needed. She silently thanked the monkey's paw granting of her wish and carefully lowered it to the ropes around her ankles, holding it pinched between her fingers and thumb. She began to rub it against the rope. Over and over and over she slid the blade down, nearly dropping it several times. Her weak fingers made getting a good grip impossible and the water was quickly rising. She thought maybe her plan was in vain, that there was no way she could cut into the waterlogged rope with such a small blade but finally, just before giving up, she felt a groove form. Her renewed hope gave her a burst of energy and she quickened her rub. It was far easier now she had broken through the surface but it was still slow going and she refused to go too fast out of fear the blade would slip through her grasp and her only lifeline would be lost forever.

The water continued to rise around her. She felt it lap at her chin and craned her head back as far as she could, flaring up the pain again but buying a few more moments of precious oxygen. She could feel the ropes beginning to give and quickened her pace. She took one last deep breath as the water crested her head. She knew she only had seconds to break through the rope now and sped up further, the threat of losing her tool now secondary to running out of air before she could finish using it. Her quickened pace worked and with every slice, she could feel the ropes getting weaker and weaker but it came at a price. Her speed made her sloppy and she slipped. Her blade slid out of the groove she had made and glid across one of her fingers, slicing it open and sending a pain shockwave through her. She let out an involuntary gasp, losing what little air she had in her lungs. The blade slipped from her grasp and sailed out into the water. She flailed around trying to catch it, grasping wildly but found nothing but empty water. She had lost her tool. She was doomed.

She tried to stand, desperate for oxygen and as she shifted her legs she felt how loose the ropes had become. Quickly she reached down and grabbed at them, tugging at the part she had been slicing away at. It was weak and with a little wiggling, she managed to pull the two pieces apart. Her legs were free. She quickly stood, wincing as she put all her weight onto her newly stabbed foot, and poked her head above the water's surface - which now went up to her chest. She gasped for air, sucking in as much as she could through the gag. Her hands now able to reach her face, she clawed at the gag and pulled it out so she could finally breathe normally, then removed the blindfold so she could see her prison. She found it made little difference, given how dark the room was, but could see a lip up above where she could climb out. It was too high for her to reach now, so she would have to wait for the water to rise more but if she could last that long she would be able to escape.

She looked around the rest of the room for the first time. The first thing she realised was it was far larger than she had originally assumed and she had only explored a very small amount of it. The walls stretched off further than she could see in the darkness but she felt it was unlikely there would be much to see if she followed them to their end. She decided her best choice was simply to wait for the water to rise and swim to safety, doing anything else would just be a waste of her already dwindling energy. She sighed in relief as she was lifted off her bleeding foot by the ever-rising water and was now able to float relatively pain-free on the surface, only having to kick occasionally to keep herself afloat. Her mind drifted again to the pain in the back of her head and what had brought her here.

She remembered more. The man from the app. He was standing in front of a car. He was talking but she couldn't hear him. The memory was incomplete, the area around the two of them blurry. Was this where he had attacked her? No, that didn't seem right. She heard a gunshot. He had shot her? No, that wasn't right either. She saw him and a splash of red. He looked shocked - scared - and fell down. Then came the hit to the back of her head.

Her memory ended there. It was still spotty and she had a lot of questions, but it was clear that it hadn't been her date that attacked her that night. It was someone else. Her date was probably dead now and, although she barely remembered him, she couldn't help but feel overwhelmed by grief and guilt. It was clearly her the attacker wanted; that's why she was still alive and why he wasn't. If she hadn't been with him he would still be alive. But who could have taken her, and why? She didn't have anyone she would call an enemy, no psychopathic ex-boyfriends or secret children looking for revenge. Again she looked wildly around the room for clues and she saw something she hadn't before. There was someone else in the water with her, bobbing on the surface just like she was. She kicked her way over to them. Her bound arms stopped her from swimming properly, so it was far from graceful but grace was the last thing on her mind right now.

She reached out a hand and grasped the figure by the shoulder. They felt cold and clammy to the touch. With a gentle shove, Shelly turned the figure around to face her and recoiled in horror. She screamed and kicked away from the figure, making little progress and splashing wildly. She managed to put some distance between the two of them but still couldn't drag her eyes off the horror before her. The figure floated limply in the water, mouth hung loosely in a silent scream. The flesh waterlogged and rotting, the eyes empty and lifeless. Like Shelly, they had managed to remove their gag and blindfold but it had seemingly done them no good. Further past the corpse, Shelly could see several more figures, meer silhouettes dotted around in the darkness, each of them also bobbing lifeless in the water.

She tore her eyes away from the body and back towards the lip at the edge of the room. It was closer now, the water had continued to rise and carry her higher and higher with each passing second. She swam towards it, eager to finally escape this watery torture but just before she reached the wall she was jerked to a sudden halt and pain shot up her leg from her broken ankle. She reeled in pain and ran a hand down her leg and felt around until her fingers brushed past a metal clasp wrapped around her ankle. Her heart sank. She hadn't noticed it before because the pain and numbness masked the feeling of it against her skin and the rope had been wrapped over it hiding it from her hand. Attached to the clasp was a long metal chain that stretched further than Shelly could feel or see, but she could tell it ran all the way to the bottom. When the water had been lower she had been able to move freely but as it had risen, the chain was pulled taught and limited her to a very narrow range of movement, one that cut left her just short of the ledge above.

She looked longingly up at the platform at the edge of the room, her salvation just out of arm's reach. A hulking figure appeared up there, stepping out of the darkness seemingly from nowhere. He was barely visible in the low light of the room, his whole form hidden in shadow and dressed in a black, hooded raincoat which made it impossible to see any defining features apart from his tremendous size. Although she couldn't see his eyes, Shelly could feel them drilling into her.

Slowly and without turning away he reached a hand out to the wall next to him and wrapped a gloved hand around a heavy switch. Shelly opened her mouth to scream out to him, to beg him not to pull it but before she could make a sound he slammed the switch down and the chain around her leg retracted. She was pulled back under the water, all the way to the bottom of the pool. The other women were pulled down alongside her, returning once more to their watery graves...


About the author

Jasper James McGreavy

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