It never took long for the new captive to hate and distrust Ryan. Samantha stayed rolled up on her cot for two days with nothing to say. She even refused to eat any food that was brought for her.
“You need to eat,” was the first thing Ryan said to Samantha.
“Why?” she sobbed.
“There are worse things that . . .” Ryan was interrupted.
“Worse things then him!” she screamed.
“No, I meant . . . there are worse things he could do to you,” he said which made Samantha recoil back to her bed. Her exterior was already broken and she was now more afraid.
Ryan continued his work on his mural. He was about done. All that was left was a little dirt mound in the corner. “You’re actually pretty good,” Samantha said.
Ryan simply replied, “Thanks.”
“You know, if you help me, I think we can get out of here,” she said.
Ryan smiled. They all pretty much followed the same routine but they all had different paces. What Ryan realized that they went trough four different stages. There was the scared phase, the friend stage, the angry stage and the acceptance stage. Lorena, now deceased, had a slower pace, she stayed in the first phase for the whole time and didn’t reach the friend stage till it was time for her to leave. Samantha had already entered that stage and that stage was usually full of lies.
“Come on. Let’s get out of here. You know, me and you could run away,” she said as she held the bars to her cell. She lied, “We could just get out of here and find jobs. Maybe, even, I don’t know, have our own life. Me and you.”
Ryan wanted to laugh, but instead he continued his art without saying a word.
She slowly took a couple of steps back to her cot. She then screamed and flipped over her bed. The angry stage, Ryan thought to himself. She’s faster than the others.
Next: Piece 5
Mushrooms are feed shit and kept in the dark. Ryan was one of these mushrooms. He returned after a couple of hours with Uncle John. He walked to the back of the basement and Uncle John took a deep look at his artwork. He was very pleased. He left with a couple of paintings in tow.
He later returned with a gift – a flashlight. Ryan was more than happy to receive any kind of gift, but a flashlight would really help him with his artwork. “This better improve your work,” Uncle John said as he walked out of the basement. Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click! Click!
Ryan smiled as he walked to the back of the basement. “What are you? Like his pet?” Samantha asked with hatred spewing from every word.
He finally had seen her face. She was beautiful, but so were the others. “Idiot, I’m talking to you,” she said.
He had a strange urge to draw her face, it grabbed him around his skull. He stared at her as he thought about how he could translate her features to canvas. The idea was calming and required a bit of focus which caused him to ignore what she had said.
“Hello? Are you slow or something?” she said as he walked up to the side of the cage. He wasn’t interested in anything that streamed from those lips just its features. He quickly ran off to the dark corner where we kept his supplies. He remembered to use his new flashlight and pulled it off the tiny table by the wall and with it, he went back and found his sketchbook. He sat down in front of her and began to sketch.
“I’m talking to you!” she screamed. Uncle John didn’t allow screaming in the basement. The sound of stomping feet shook the ceiling as Uncle John traversed towards the door to the basement. Ryan stayed in his little spot and began to draw the frighten face Samantha made. Perfect he thought.
Uncle John opened the door and his face was red with anger. Click-click-clickty-click ka-clinkty-click. Uncle John unlocked her cage and Samantha tossed everything she could at him – which wasn’t much. “Help!” she screamed as Uncle John wrestled with her. Usually Uncle John kept his sexual escapades in his room, but the first time a new captive broke a rule, he liked to show them who’s in charge.
Ryan had seen five teenagers around his age die. He was once in the same predicament, but now he has found himself alive and living – at least for now.
“Lorena?” he whispered. “Are you okay?” he asked. He always asked, even though most of the time they didn’t respond. Many preferred to sit in silence, hating the world, hating him. He could hear her crying. “Lorena, everything will be okay,” he lied.
There were two large cages in the room, if they were aquariums, you’d be able to fit one large shark in each. Ryan used to sleep in one and Lorena slept in the other. Ryan had earned the right to stay outside. For all he knew, he was the only one. His bed made of blankets and pillows stayed in the corner opposite of his painting supplies and, in this dark damp basement, he was happy.
He spent most of his time painting. Today he added green to the grass in his mural. Lorena eventually, still traumatized, started watching Ryan work. His hand flowed and twitched with a certain artistic precision she was unaware of.
“Why are you doing it?” she asked.
“Doing what?” Ryan responded as he stood back and looked at the wall.
“All this. These paintings and drawings. Why do you do them?” she asked with a hint of anger. She was displacing her anger on Ryan – it was typical of her, and of any of Uncle John’s captives.
He wanted to tell her that it was the only reason he was still alive, but he didn’t have the heart. “What else are we going to do?” he asked.
“Well . . . can I draw something?” she asked. Ryan walked over to his supplies and dug through the mess. In the dark he had found a clean sheet of butcher paper. Ryan passed it to her and they sat at the edge of her cell and they began to draw.
She drew a circle, forgetting about the old chubby man’s ugly naked body. Then she drew little ears – the time she had spent in the man’s bedroom had vanished. She felt like a child again. She drew hair, then a pair of eyes and a nose. She drew herself – happy.
“Pretty,” Ryan said, through the darkness she could feel his smile. It was warm and comforting
Uncle John returned and as the door clicked Lorena ran and hid in her cot. Ryan picked up his supplies and began to put them away. The light flickered on as he entered the room. His silhouette was accompanied by another shorter darkness. They had a new resident. Her name was Samantha, but Uncle John introduced her as Sam. Ryan stopped and stared at her; her face was hidden by her hair.
Uncle John looked back at Lorena after he locked Samantha in her cage. He was out of shape – or just round and chubby -, he may have been in better shape when he was younger, but he wasn’t now, not even close. He looked like he was in his late forties, but with the single light hanging from the high basement ceiling, it was hard to tell. His belly stuck out of his shirt and hung over his belt, Ryan hated that. The look on Uncle John’s face told the next story – it was time for Lorena to die.
“Lorena, it’s time for you to go home,” Uncle John lied. Her eyes lit up as she scrambled from her bed. “Ryan, help Lorena with her stuff.”
It was all a charade. He wanted to inspire hope with the new captive, but the truth is Lorena would be taken to Uncle John’s bedroom, where she will be murdered and raped.
Next: Piece 3
For being a basement, it finally started to feel like home, Ryan thought to himself. He had spent the last two years of his life becoming an artist, while he was kept in the darkness in the bowels of his captor’s house.
He wasn’t alone. Lorena was about his age, sixteen, but she was still far from trying to make the best of the situation. Ryan didn’t blame her.
There were a few positives to living like this and Ryan tried to take advantage with what he had. The basement he was kept in was much bigger than his old room and, more importantly, he was surrounded by all the art supplies he needed. He was currently painting the farthest wall from the stairs into a beautiful blue sky when Lorena returned with Uncle John. It was his best piece of work – his masterpiece.
The locks clicked one by one – there were a total of seven. One light lit the room – it hung, and it swayed. Ryan always became blinded when the door opened, but through that blindly light he could see Lorena’s return. She was escorted in and brought to her cage. Uncle John kept all his captives in cages. He only trusted Ryan. Ryan was the only child that had more privileges.
Ryan continued to paint as Uncle John made his way to the wall. “Wow . . . Ryan you have outdone yourself again,” Uncle John said as he stared at the wall. “Did you need anymore supplies?” he asked.
“Sir, I am fine. Thank you,” Ryan spoke sullenly to his captor.
“Well . . . good work,” Uncle John said. Uncle John stared at it for at least a whole minute before he walked back up the steps and out the door. Seven clicks followed.
Lorena moved to her cot and wrapped herself in her blanket. She didn’t know that she would probably be dead soon.
Next: Piece 2