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The Feeb in the Cellar[]

The unmistakable scent of urine tickled Mack's nostrils. Lately, his bladder reacts quicker than his conscious mind. That odor stirs up a familiar realization that allows doubt and fear to spring up from a very shallow part of his mind. Those feelings have been conditioned into him over the last few months and never slip too far beneath the surface these days. He knows he's safe when it's feeding time, but that comes seldom, and he ate yesterday—or had it been longer than that?

Uncertainty is another trait he exhibits way too often now, but he's sure of what is coming his way today. His younger self, like say about four months younger, would have balked at the thought now entering his head. He would have said, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Get a hold of your sack, give them nuts a squeeze, and then fight, fight, fight!"

That Mack had died in the second week of captivity and now this piss soaked, bloodied pulp of a man is all that is left. He didn't struggle anymore, and he certainly didn't act in any way that would invite more punishment on himself than his captor intended. No, he did what he was told, never spoke unless spoken to and always said thank you after every visit just like he was taught to do. The thought now crawling in his head brings forth feelings of both fear and revulsion. He's thinking maybe today is the day he will die and a part of him, the bigger fraction now, wishes for it.

A fifty-five-gallon drum with a spigot on it keeps him well hydrated, so he can piss on himself every time he hears the padlock sliding free. A little more usually spills from him when the cellar door creaks open, admitting the first bit of light he's seen since the last time it was closed. He really starts to gush when he hears his captor coming down the stairs, each footfall on the creaky steps mingles together to create a melody like a pianist tickling ivory keys.

A Kept Man[]

So how did Joel MacKenzie end up beaten, disfigured, and lying in his own filth in a cellar about an hour outside of Greenville? A chloroform-soaked handkerchief, perhaps? Maybe he was whacked over the head and shoved into the back of a van while out for a walk? Was he lulled into a false sense of security with some nonsense of searching for a lost Chihuahua? Did he get locked in a moving truck while he was helping some cutie wearing a cast on her arm move a few pieces of furniture?

The truth is actually more complicated than all of those scenarios; Joel Bartholomew MacKenzie got married. Desiray Booth wasn't like any girl he had ever met before. She giggled and kissed him on the cheek when he unabashedly told her he was probably too old for her. He hadn't given marriage much thought until she wandered into his favorite watering hole one chilly night in January. Well, the idea didn't occur to him that day, but they did pick out a ring just two months later.

Desiray had set her eyes on Mack almost immediately and he was all she seemed to see from that point on. She fawned over him and clung tightly like he was more of a life-line than a boyfriend. His friends and family could see that something wasn't quite right about her. She had a mirthless smile that made everyone but Mack uncomfortable. Her constant adulation drew Mack in with one overly sweet sentiment after another until her faults seemed almost nonexistent.

She was the perfect woman as far as Mack was concerned. His friends and family certainly didn't see in her what he saw. They couldn't figure out what a 22-year-old bombshell like her wanted with a 34-year-old pipe fitter. His mother came right out at the church potluck and asked Desiray what her real motives were for stringing her son along.

Mack was so appalled when he looked around the room and saw the same question expressed on everyone else's face. He grabbed Desiray's hand and they walked out of the church. They were married in a tacky little chapel with an Elvis impersonator presiding over the ceremony a week later. A drunk couple who met at a blackjack table stood in as witnesses. The newlyweds hung around Vegas for a week, did a bit of gambling, and took in the sights.

They returned home to Mack's small apartment and decided they needed a bigger place. The lovebirds moved into a rental property overlooking the Georgia border a couple weeks later. The first few weeks went relatively well. Desiray had begun to assert herself more day by day, but Mack didn't let it bother him. He figured they both needed time to settle into all the recent changes in their lives.

Nearly two months into their marriage and his wife wouldn't let Mack touch her anymore. She was moody all the time and he just couldn't do anything right in her eyes. They had been in a strange grudge match for about a week where she would set all the clocks in the house to nine o'clock and he would go around and fix them all. He only asked her what time it was once. She answered, "Nine o'clock" and then locked herself in the bedroom. He slept on the couch that night and wondered what he had gotten himself into.

He came home from work one day and she wasn't anywhere in sight. He looked around the house for her but came up empty. A few minutes later he heard the cellar door shut and Desiray came walking into the house. He asked her what she was doing in the cellar. She quickly changed the subject and asked him why he was home so early. He had completely forgotten about the cellar by the time he'd convinced her he wasn't home any earlier than usual.

A few days went by and Mack discovered some strange charges on his credit card account while paying the bills. He sat there wondering about it when that day he heard her coming from the cellar entered his thoughts. The old ball and chain was out grocery shopping, so he figured it was the best time to see what she had been doing under the house. He went outside and around to the side of the house. The cellar door had a padlock on it. He fetched his 24-inch heavy duty bolt cutters from the shed and made quick work of the padlock.

Mack raised up the door and let it fall to the side. A moment later he was stepping down onto the dirt floor of the cellar. Surveying the dank, smelly room didn't show him anything immediately, so he went in a little further and tugged on another light cord. He woke up later with a horrible headache and a metallic taste in his mouth.

The shackles on his wrists were the next thing he noticed. His life changed drastically after that. Mack lived in the cellar for several days without any human contact. He didn't have anything to eat, but he had plenty to drink. He sat there in the dark and went over and over in his head every failed escape attempt. Three days into his incarceration and he had run out of ideas.

He knew why his family and friends didn't come around, but he figured his employer would inquire about him. He didn't know his boss had received his resignation in an email. One day he was applying saliva to his raw wrists to try and sooth them, he dared not waste any of his water. The sound of a padlock sliding free from a hasp caught his attention.

The cellar door swung open and then shut. He wasn't in a position to see up the stairs, but the few seconds of sunlight was the first bit of light to cut through the darkness in days. Black spots swam before his eyes as footsteps sounded on the stairs. He inhaled awkwardly from fear of what was coming down the stairs and began to hack and cough. He doubled over and rubbed at his sore throat.

A red beam of light shined on his face and he recoiled like a vampire from a drawn curtain. He heard something hit the ground, but he could feel the red light on him every time he tried to look ahead. The light hurt his eyes, so he crawled to the wall, pressed his back against the cool, damp cinderblocks, and hid his face in the crook of his elbow. Once his jailor had left, he crawled around until he discovered a bag of potatoes. He quickly devoured two and then vomited them up onto the dirt floor.

Two days later his captor returned and trained the red light on him again. He recoiled like before until a bright white light illuminated the room. He slowly opened his eyes. The light stung, but nowhere near as much as the red light. It took a while to adjust to his surroundings, but eventually, he noticed an obscured figure standing behind the light. The shadowy figure stepped into view and standing before him was his wife, Desiray Blossom MacKenzie.

He had convinced himself she had been killed by the brute that held him captive. He never once considered she could be his jailor, but it all made sense now. His credit card bill had charges for a flood light, hunting knives, and various gags and bindings from a sex shop. He couldn't explain the knives or light, but he just thought his wife was being secretive about the charges until she worked up the nerve to tell him she was a kinky freak.

During the next few days, Desiray began his "conditioning" as she called it. It wasn't long before he missed the days of his captivity when hunger and boredom seemed like torture. Within a few days, he was slipping into his bindings when he heard her coming down the stairs. He learned the hard way to predict what she wanted. He didn't always guess right, but it still was the best strategy to placating her.

Their sessions together started out with kicks and slaps, but eventually graduated to shallow cuts along his arms and sides. He screamed and bucked the first time she presented her collection of knives, but he quickly learned that too much struggling only made her cut deeper. She would clean and bandage his wounds after every bout of knife play.

Desiray continued to step up her antics. Every time he thought he couldn't take anymore, he discovered a new kind of pain. He endured it all day after day. His old self slowly slipped away and was replaced with a creature whose appearance and behavior would be completely unrecognizable to those who knew him before.

He despised his weakness more each day, but he couldn't find it in himself to hate her. Oh, he did at first, but eventually, his hatred died like most thoughts in his head. She was the one who fed him and cleaned his wounds, after all. He definitely feared her, but he had lost the capacity for any other real emotions.

The Color of Freedom[]

One day, the brazen Mack he thought long ago drowned in pain and subservience, reached out from the depths of his psyche and did the unthinkable. He asked her a question. "What happened to you at nine o'clock?" She stepped back and dropped the knife. A sad expression crept over her face as she looked down at her bare feet, clasped her hands together, and lowered them to her waist.

Desiray spoke in a little girl's voice, "That's when daddy would come into my room at night. He'd call me his little desert blossom and then..." The little girl in the grown woman's body shook involuntarily from the awful memories in her head as tears streaked down her cheeks. Desiray's hands clenched into tight little fists. She swung her head up and glared at Mack. She spat at him and spoke in the cruel tone that had become all too familiar to him.

"Seemed almost poetic to stick him... that last time he visited my bedroom." She crouched down before the knife sticking out of the dirt floor, a bonfire blazed in her eyes. "I stuck him over and over again like he used to do to me. It's... kinda funny, I never moved an inch whenever he... he would stick me, but he struggled and flailed like a catfish on a rock." She wrapped her arms around her knees, tucked her chin against her sternum, and began to rock back and forth.

The old Mack, reborn for maybe just one fleeting moment, let out a sigh. At that moment he knew what the true color of freedom was. There was no return to normalcy for him, he just couldn't picture it. He wondered how much longer he could possibly last and the thought crystallized his resolve. Mack looked at the mad woman before him and asked her one last question, "What time is it, my little desert blossom?"

Written by Kolpik
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