Editor’s Note: Everyone’s given 24 hours in a day, it’s really what you do that counts. Zheryew’s piece demonstrates the perfect juxtaposition of incorporating madness within mundanity, and showcases how some routines may not be so simple, after all. If you’re looking for an accompanying soundtrack, here’s my personal suggestion.
Just another day.
Robert sighed as he ambled into the office. He squinted at the cluttered room and squeezed his temples.
Dammit, another one goes missing, he cursed in his thought. When will this ever end?
He walked towards the board occupying the center of the room and stared at it with a blank gaze. His eyes were screaming from exhaustion due to the lack of sleep. He’s thought about every possible trick in the book; he’s searched every nook and cranny; he’s interviewed every possible witnesses. Still no leads.
Robert dragged his heels across the dusty floor and sat in front of his monitor. The screen was filled with news articles, each piece more dramatic than the other. He never liked how the media sensationalized murder, especially ones believed to be serial.
He closed his eyes and placed his forehead against his interlaced fingers. His body needed to rest, but all he could see was the horrific images implanted into his memory.
2 so far, and God knows how many more.
Again, the flashbacks played through Robert’s mind like a strip of negatives. He felt his stomach churn. He was about to throw up. The mouth, Robert recalled. Why would anyone do such a thing?
Just 2 days ago, a body was found in an abandoned apartment just across the Los Angeles Police Department where Robert worked. It was the most gruesome murder Robert has ever witnessed in his 16 years of service. The victim was a female who was, according to the autopsy, drugged to high heaven. She was found tied to a chair and her back was skinned clean. Her spine was almost visible as some of the areas were deeply cut. Her body was found naked and there was no sign of sexual assault. As Robert thought it could not get any worse, he looked at her mouth. There was a fleshy void where her tongue was supposed to be. It seemed as though it was ripped out of her mouth.
Rivulets of dried blood plastered across her face as her mouth gaped open as if in shock.
Robert shuddered and opened his eyes. He looked across his table and out of the window.
No matter how insane these murders were, deep down inside Robert knew that this was just another day at the office.
He stepped out of bed and sauntered into the pantry. He looked over at his table clock: 2.48 am. His sleep was interrupted by a loud scream from the floor below him. He rubbed his eyes and poured himself a cup of water. He sipped on it as he descended the flight of stairs.
It was pitch black and the air was stale. It smelled of a mixture of blood and disinfectant. His feet shuffled across the tiled floor and reached for the switch.
Immediate the sound of rattling chains echoed across the room as the light flickered to a dim brightness. The figure in the corner cowered and let out a soft whimper. He walked towards the figure and kicked it across the head. The figure sobbed even louder.
“How many times do I need to remind you,” he uttered as he shook his head. “No one can hear you. No one ever will.”
The figure said nothing. Not like she can, anyway. He walked across the room and reached for a small plastic container. It was filled with a reddish liquid and floating inside was a piece of meat. He waved the container in the girl’s direction.
“Scream once more,” he mocked. “and it won’t be as simple as your tongue next time.”
He then switched off the light and ascended the stairs. He returned to his bed, flipped his pillow, and went back to bed.
Just like how he would every other day.
The blow to the head sent waves of pain down her spine. You would think that the human body would get used to the amount and intensity of pain stimulations by now, but hell no. Every kick, punch, whip, or cut felt as fresh as ever.
She danced her fingers across her head and felt a small bump. She wanted to scream again, but her body was holding her vocal cords hostage. No sound came out as tears streamed down her swollen cheeks. The taste of metal still lingered in her mouth as she struggled to swallow. Who knew that it would be so difficult to swallow without a tongue?
Ever since her abduction, she has completely lost track of time. There were no windows, no clocks, not even the sound of alarm clocks going off from above. She has no idea if it was day or night. Time was irrelevant. Every day was a routine. A routine of pain and agony.
He would feed her scraps of food, beat her, sexually assault her, and the cycle would continue. There would be times when she would rather die, but death was never an option. The chains around her limbs reminded her of that fact. She could not even allow herself to bleed out, now that her tongue was gone. At this point, death was a luxury.
She sniffled and closed her eyes. For yet another day for the umpteenth time, she hoped and prayed that the pain would just knock her out.
Then at least she wouldn’t need to suffer.
Text by Ooi Zheryew
Featured image by Michael Ward